The Final Piece

It looked like a small funnel.

At one end of the object was a small tube with tiny holes that Edmund recognized as designed to latch onto the catches he had found in the statue. The tube then twisted and expanded, becoming conical. The wide end of this cone was covered with two touching strips of thin silk, the edges ragged and torn from the rat’s curious nibbling.

It was grimy, tarnished, covered in dust and filth, bits of it were slimy, and as Edmund gripped it in his hands, it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen.

As he turned to run back down the passageway, he noticed through the haze of victory that the rat was sitting, staring at him with what Edmund imagined was a calm expression for a rat. Edmund purposefully stepped to the side, pressing himself against the wall, the piece of the statue still gripped in his fingers.

“Thank you,” he said, wondering if champion knights felt like this when they saluted their opponents after a hard fought tournament. The rat looked at him a moment longer, and then scampered past him back to its home. Edmund smiled–it felt like he had made a friend.

Edmund returned to the library, checking along the way to make sure no one saw him in his slightly dirty clothing in case they asked him what he was up to. Kneeling down behind the statue, he carefully fit the piece into place over the catches on the small pipe. When the piece clicked into place, he let out a sigh of satisfaction.

“There,” he said to himself, pulling his hand out of the machinery. “That’s done.”

He heard the air begin to blow through the tube again. As it did, the silk at the end of the cone vibrated, and a soft raspy thrumming filled the alcove. It stopped almost immediately, and then came again, twice in short sharp bursts. Edmund saw two small tines immediately above and below the cone quiver and then fall still.

Something else? There must be–but he was close now, he could tell!

The tines had the small key apparatuses on their edges, and looking closely, Edmund could see two small metal loops on the edge of the cone–the perfect place to tie a piece of string.

He found a small piece of string in the library and managed to saw it in half with the bronze letter-opener. Unable to support himself, Edmund needed to lie on his belly to reach into the machine with both hands and properly attach the string to the tines and the edges of the cone.

There was a pause, and then the air began to blow again. Edmund saw the tines twitch, the string tighten, and the cone slowly bend as the silk straightened. The tone bent and twisted around the saw-edged silk and the tines strained as the sound became thinner and quieter, spiraling and waving back and forth as the tines twisted and pulled and jerked about like fishing rods.

And what the sound said, was;

“Thank you.”

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