Edmund flipped further back to Rotchild’s father, Plinkerton. According to the different letters and notations relating to Patron Plinkerton Moulde, he was a brilliant scientist and engineer, who made several foolish investments in dead-end businesses and technologies. In a time when a war was looming on the horizon, he focused on luxury businesses and entertainment industries that faltered under the uncertain and conservative mood of the country.
Edmund found nothing but confirmation of what both Matron and Mr. Shobbinton had told him; that Plinkerton was the beginning of the families financial and moral decline, followed by the paranoia of his son, Rotchild, and then the madness of Isaybel, the apathy of Grunder, the cruelty of Victrola…
Edmund nodded to himself; Plinkerton had to have made the statue for his son. A brilliant engineer was definitely involved, though a master sculptor would have been helpful as well. Edmund stood from his small pile of books and walked back to the stacks. He needed to learn as much as he could about Plinkerton and his statue. He needed instructions.
On several different shelves, there were several books on the ‘Plinkerton Engine,’ an apparent engineering marvel that brought incredible prosperity to the city by powering several emerging industries, and a few mentions of ‘Plinktonium’–some strange metal that could conduct heat faster than copper–but nothing about statues
Perhaps, Edmund realized, if Plinkerton had made the statue he had also given it an engine of his own design? Edmund reconsidered his plans. If the statue was designed to move under its own power, than the statue wasn’t necessarily broken; maybe it just needed a power source. There could be a large spring that needed winding, or an engine that needed fuel to provide steam.
Edmund grabbed several books on the Plinkerton Engine, and scoured their contents for any useful or insightful piece of information. One of the books luckily had a large diagram that fully detailed the construction of such an engine, including the gyros, pistons, and levers that made up its inner workings. According to the diagram, the Plinkerton Engines were huge monstrosities that took up almost two full stories in any factory.
Edmund was about to give up when he noticed a small portion of the diagram that looked familiar. Dragging the thick heavy book back to the statue, he peered as carefully as he could in the dim light at the diagram, comparing it to the gears and springs in the statue.
Sure enough, the statue was powered by a miniature Plinkerton Engine. Of particular interest to Edmund was the single paragraph that explained how the engine was fueled by a liquid called ‘the Mechanus Vitae,’ a pale blue concoction invented by Plinkerton that could power a small engine for a decade at least.
Armed with this new piece of the puzzle, Edmund was about to return to the stacks to look for more information about this fuel when a low booming echoed through the library, reminding him it was almost dinner time. He had missed lunch, and he knew he couldn’t miss dinner too, or else his cousin’s might start asking questions.
Briefly torn, Edmund finally set his excitement carefully aside and slowly climbed the stairs to the elevator, looking back at the half-hidden alcove all the way.