Summer was drawing to a close.
The wind began to batter at the windows of Moulde Hall even stronger than before, and the drooping withered leaves of the treas outside began to turn from gray green to sickly yellow and brackish red. A bitter chill began to seep through the cold stone into Moulde Hall, a harbinger of the coming Autumn.
As the winds became more frequent, Edmund was delighted to see that the brass tree in the library was not just a statue. When he entered the library one day, he saw the massive statue had lost its leaves. The branches were smooth and bare, while the shimmering foliage had piled around its base, filling the small recess that the tree stood in.
Edmund picked up one of the leaves and turned it around in his fingers. It was almost as big as his whole hand, and fairly light. The leaf had been carved most delicately, enough so that Edmund could feel the veins that webbed through it like a real leaf. It felt fragile.
He played about in the leaves, careful not to harm them as he picked them up and tossed them between his hands. He stepped carefully, shuffling about in the cold metallic leaves and listening to them clink and clatter.
As he played, he saw one leaf that was a slightly different color than the rest. It was a bright golden color, and when Edmund picked it up from the massive pile of leaves, he saw it’s stem was thicker and longer than the others. At the end of the stem, the metal dripped down into three small ridges, like a key. On both sides of the leaf, a thick calligraphy proclaimed Memento Mori, in clear and easy hand.
Wasn’t that the same phrase carved into the Gargoyle’s sign in the tower? Edmund wondered again what the phrase meant, and slipped the leaf into his pocket. He decided he would keep it with him for a while, to see if he ever found a use for it.
As the cold weather began to press closer, Edmund took to reading to Tayatra from the History of Moulde Hall. It was informative to her, hearing of the other Patrons and Matrons that followed after Rotchild, and how they steadily drove the finances, goodwill, and social standing of the Moulde Family into the ground until it became the rundown mansion with two servants and no real family members that it was today.
“Why do you not give me something to read to you,” Tayatra offered one day, after Edmund finally finished the book. “It is what I was created for.”
She turned out to be a beautiful reader; her diction was perfect and intonation pleasant to Edmund’s ears. She read as fast or slow as he asked, and would define some words he didn’t understand. Several times, she even explained whole passages that he didn’t quite comprehend. She made the histories and scientific texts come alive
As time passed, he gave Tayatra more and more books read. He would sit quietly in the large chair facing Tayatra’s alcove, his eyes shut as her voice flowed around him. He began to have his lunch there, taking a small tray with him so he could read, write, and talk with Tayatra in peace.
For the first time in a very long time, Edmund felt happy.
It didn’t last.