Finally, the last tine was tied, and Edmund re-affixed the stone plate to the back of Tayatra, the threads slipping through the several small holes at the bottom of the statue. Edmund stepped back to look at his handiwork.
It was a mess. String hung everywhere like a sad pot of noodles that someone had thrown over the whole alcove. It was messy, confusing, and somewhere in Edmund’s heart, he knew it was… inelegant. He considered re-cutting some of the strings, but decided against it –Tayatra had been very specific about the lengths and placements of all the thread he had hung.
“Okay,” he said, licking his lips nervously. “I think you’re fixed.”
“Please stand back,” she said. “I am going to wind the string taught.”
There was a whirring noise deep in the desk, and slowly… ever so slowly… Edmund saw the strings begin to tighten.
It was like curtains raising on a beautiful stage. White strands of string rose into the air like angel wings. String after string became taught, as one after another they pulled gently on the statue. The mess of thread behind Tayatra became a beautiful spiderweb that surrounded her like a halo; a mosaic of lines that made Edmund think of a stained glass window in a church.
He stood, amazed, as the strings became straight, like harp strings. There was a pause, and then the strings tugged together, lifting the statue’s body like the gentle hands of a master puppeteer. Tayatra was lifted like a limp rag doll, carefully straightened, and posed like a mannequin.
Then more strings tightened.
In the blink of an eye the clumsy statue seemed uncannily human. Her fingers bent and joints twisted as her hands spread wide in a smooth and elegant embrace that looked like it could encompass the world. Her torso leaned as if she was stretching. Her arms flexed and rested lightly on her desk with a poise that made Edmund’s chest hurt, until her head finally rose, and Edmund got his first look at Tayatra’s face.
It was not a thin face, nor wide. It was not rough, nor kind. It looked to Edmund like the heads he had seen in the hallways on Greek statues, with the eyes open and pupil-less, and the mouth an inexpressive line. Her nose was small and straight, her lips plain and smooth. And on her forehead, a single green glass circle, no bigger than Edmund’s thumbnail, sat embedded in the stone.
She was the most beautiful thing Edmund had ever seen.
Her head moved around, at once graceful and clumsy, tugged by the net of strings until the glass circle pointed at Edmund. Tayatra froze, and slowly leaned closer to him, her hands resting on the desk.
“Master Edmund,” she said, her voice drifting mistily through the air. “You look so much like Master Rotchild.”