History. Edmund had never had one before. He thought he had received one when Matron adopted him, but it had always been sort of an illusion; an assumed history made up from Edmund’s imagination and the feeling of the past leaking from the old walls and floors of Moulde Hall. When he found the library, the books of Moulde Hall, and finally Tayatra, he had found a link–a solid connection to the lives and ancestors that came before him.
That history was nothing compared to the history that lay around him now. Skeletons crammed into old rotting wood, and dusty placards with names crumbled to dust, history long forgotten save as a feast for vermin. ‘Memento Mori,’ was the Moulde family motto… and never had this been more clear to Edmund than now.
This was it, Edmund knew, as a chill trickled over his skin like a spider’s feet. Matron’s Gift would be given to the wise, and Edmund aimed to be worthy. He searched around her chair, ran his hands over the stone walls, and tapped his foot as hard as he could on all the rocks in the floor. He couldn’t find any secret catches or hidden doors, so he thought harder. What would the wise do upon entering this room?
They’d take everything they could see and leave, Edmund realized.
He felt his heart sink. Plinkerton had died over a hundred years ago–how could a stash of money remained hidden for so long? He couldn’t have been the only one to have ever found the golden leaf–the leaves must have fallen every autumn. And even if he was, he knew how to open locks without a key. Why couldn’t someone else have done the same?
Edmund looked around the room. The whole room had probably been filled with gold when Plinkerton left it, like a Pharaohs tomb, but over a century someone had to have stumbled on the entrance and taken all the money for themselves. Edmund turned back to the staircase heading back up to Haggard Hill, his failure complete.
Just before he reached the steps, he stopped. That wasn’t what a wise person would do–that’s what a Moulde would do. Plinkerton had known that his family was doomed to destitution thorough the folly of their own faults; he wouldn’t have left the money lying about. And there was no indication that any other Moulde had been in this room for hundreds of years.
So what was wise when entering a tomb? Edmund thought about the knights from the story of King Arthur. What would they do upon finding a tomb to their king? They’d pay their respects, of course. A wise person respects their history, didn’t they? Feeling only a little silly, he returned to the granite throne and knelt in front of the skeleton, his head bowed, the solemnity of the event hampered by the need to grind the lantern.