At first, Edmund thought something had simply fallen out of place, and he just needed to replace a cog or spring to have Tayatra return to her former animate self.
He felt around in the hollow depths of Tayatra’s machinery, gently poking and prodding to see if anything had fallen loose or out of place. As best as he could tell, everything was seated properly in their holdings, and gripped snugly in their fittings. Tayatra had simply stopped working, for no reason he could devise.
He considered taking the vial out and putting it in again, but the vial was still glowing, and some of the gears were still turning glacially slowly. He didn’t know what pulling the vial out would do to Tayatra if she was still running, so he decided not to.
Plinkerton’s Journal! If he really had invented Tayatra, he had to have left something in his journal somewhere; perhaps even a clue to fix her. Where had he last left it? Edmund leapt to his feet and slipped his way out of the alcove, and to the now large pile of books that had nearly taken over his desk.
The corner of the room was covered with books he had finished, books he was in the middle of, and books he hadn’t even opened yet. The piles were huge, and in his panic, Edmund could only shove books aside or throw them over his shoulder.
Finally, he found the large leather-bound book lying on its side under the desk. Grabbing it, he tore open the book without even bothering to take it off the floor. This time, instead of flipping through it like before, he began at the beginning, desperate to read all of the secret thoughts of Patron Plinkerton.
He read from beginning to end, and then again. Every once in a while, he would jump up and run to one of the hundreds of books he had pulled off of the shelf and flipped through it, wondering if he had just found a clue. Inevitably, his shoulders would sag and he would return to the journal, having failed to find a solution yet again.
When the mansion struck six in the afternoon, Edmund was no closer to a solution. Each and every disappointment had brought him closer and closer to the unavoidable truth–Tayatra was gone for good.
He wasn’t going to give up, he tried to tell himself. He was going to succeed, somehow. But try as he might, he couldn’t think of how. Whenever he tried to think of a solution, the image of Tayatra lying with her head on the desk invaded his mind and set his humours churning.
Focus, his mind yelled at himself. I fixed her once, I can do it again.