Edmund blinked blearily as he tied another knot onto Tayatra’s shoulder. He had been braiding, climbing, looping, and tying for hours. Before he was simply tired. Now he was exhausted. Even with the chiming of the mansion he had completely lost track of the time; his nerves were so tired that every chime blended into the previous. For all he knew it was morning already.
Tayatra was having him tie and loop strings back and forth across the alcove like a spider web. Some were tied to the arms and hands, others to the head and torso. Some were looped about the statue, or tied with odd knots that Tayatra had to instruct him how to make, that slid back and forth along the string.
After he finished tying the string, Edmund stepped back from the shoulder, and asked the question that had been bothering him since he had found the statue.
“Why were you hidden here?” he asked. The dog-and-wheel whirred, which Edmund was beginning to realize was Tayatra thinking, and there was a pause.
“I do not know what you mean. Am I hidden? I was always open to the study.”
“Only there’s a tapestry over your alcove now,” Edmund explained as he began to braid another string. “Do you know why?”
“No,” Tayatra said, her voice slowing. “The last thing I remember is speaking with Patron Rotchild.” The thinking noise was sounding almost painful now. “Patron was asking me about several documents he had asked me to read. He needed to know if the maths had been done correctly. I told him they were…” Tayatra fell silent.
“And then what happened?” Edmund prompted. She thought for a moment, and then spoke again, her voice so soft that Edmund had to strain to hear.
“The Patron seemed unhappy with my answer. I saw him move behind me, and I heard him say…that he could not allow me to be used against him. He made it clear he believed someone had tampered with me to thwart him… Then I slipped away.” She paused, and then spoke again, almost a whisper. “I do not know why he thought this. I never did anything but serve him faithfully.”
“That’s very sad,” Edmund agreed, looking at the braided string in his hands. “I’ve just finished another one.”
“Attach it from the extended tine to the far left pulley on the ground, the far right pulley halfway up the wall, and then to the left wrist,” Tayatra’s voice was normal again.
“Why was he upset about your answer?” Edmund asked. “What was he asking you to look at?” There was another pause as Edmund climbed up the chair to loop the string through another pulley.
“I was never told what I was looking at. Numbers. Words. I never asked,” she said, slowly. “However, I overheard Patron Rotchild speaking quite loudly several times about money. He seemed… confused about the sudden lack of funds in the Moulde estate. I heard him blame the other members of his family, claiming they were stealing money from him.”
“Well,” Edmund thought for a moment. “Maybe it was financial information that Rotchild thought was wrong, and when you told him it wasn’t, he thought you had been tampered with?”