Eventually, Edmund came upon an old stone wall that would have plugged the tunnel, had recent subsidence not shoved several large stones out of the way.
It must have been after Plinkerton’s time, Edmund thought. The wall had to have been solid when he first found Orpha’s final resting place, otherwise why build another entrance? Then some time after the tunnel must have been opened by the settling of Haggard Hill.
Slipping through the hole in the wall as best he could, Edmund noticed the walls were smoother and the floor wider. the passage became better kept, with newer stones and cleaner coffins–perhaps just one century old, Edmund thought, rather than several. Edmund soldiered on, pushing deeper and deeper into the dark caverns, cranking away at the bent lantern for what light he could coax from it.
It couldn’t have been more than a half-hour before he came to an old door hanging loosely on its rusty hinges. The door gently swung open into a tall cylindrical room. The well-like tunnel stretched away into the sky and there looked to be some kind of ceiling, but he couldn’t quite discern what it was. The walls were smooth and red, with a small panel next to the door with a button on it. It looked somewhat familiar, so he pressed it.
A rattling noise echoed from above him, and after a few moments, the sound of Moulde Hall’s elevator reached Edmund’s ears as it slowly sank into view.
Edmund felt like a fool. He had never tried to go lower than the first floor, had he? He had found the secret to go to the fifth floor, and never thought the same trick might also let him go deeper.
Quickly, he pushed aside the grate, stepped inside, and pushed the lever, sending the elevator up towards his room. Edmund felt his heart lift with the elevator as the familiar rhythmic vibration of the distant foyer clock brushed against his feet through the floor of the elevator. Edmund checked his new watch. They were perfectly synchronized: it was midnight.
Finally, the elevator ground to a halt, and Edmund pushed open the grate. Edmund breathed deeply, a feeling of great relief flooding his veins. It was a sensation born of comfort and safety that he hadn’t really expected to feel, but there it was. Some part of him knew that Moulde Hall was his home.
The sense of relief was followed quickly by a rush of heat to his face. Mr. Shobbinton had tried to bury him alive. He glanced down at the skull of Orpha Moulde that he still clutched in his hands.
For a few moments, Edmund stood in the elevator, thinking about the melting autumn leaves that burned away in his grip, and a slow smile crept across his face. As quick and quiet as a rat, he darted across the hall and opened up a secret door, slipping into the dark passageways between the walls.