The End

And so we close the book on the first interesting chapter in Edmund Moulde’s life.

I want to thank you all for reading, and coming along with me on this little experimental journey of mine and Edmund’s. I have learned a lot, and will definitely use these lessons in my future work.

http://thecharnelhouse.org/2011/11/22/the-graveyard-of-utopia-soviet-urbanism-and-the-fate-of-the-international-avant-garde/

Image: Uncredited, theCharnelHouse.org

As may be suggested by the last post, this is not Edmund’s last chapter. After all, like he said way back when Matron Moulde brought him to her house, ‘The hero need to die at the end. Otherwise, it’s not really an ending — it’s just where the storyteller got tired of telling the story.’

And I’m not tired yet…

The Last Word

“So,” Matron turned her body to face Edmund squarely, her eyes narrow. “You have managed, in one summer, to find the long lost Cavalcadium of Fortune of Plinkerton Moulde along with eight of the most powerful pieces of paper ever written, rebuild the prestige of the Moulde Family, end the conflict between the Mouldes and the Bonnes, arrange a marriage for yourself, and at the end of it all the estate is still nearly broke? You are in desperate trouble.”

“What do you mean?” Edmund asked.

“I mean the heads of the nine families will now think you’re a genius, my boy, and that the family is rich again. That’s not something you’ll be able to just fake with a smile and a nod.”

“We won’t need to fake being rich for much longer,” Edmund smiled, pulling a long thin metal rod out of his pocket. He had managed to put together a small example from the diagram he had drawn in his sleep. “We will be getting much of our income in the future from these, I imagine.”

Matron stretched out her hand and snatched the rod away from Edmund when he offered it. She stared at it closely, turning it around and around with intense inspection. Then, with a small grunt of comprehension, she unscrewed one end of the rod, flipped it over, and screwed it back in, revealing the small nub of a pen.

“A pen?” Matron said, incredulously. “Is that all?”

“It’s already full,” Edmund said, happily. “And that top is quite tight so the ink won’t dry out once it’s inside. Quite a lot of ink in here to–it should last for a long time before needing to be refilled. No more messing about with eyedroppers.”

“Even so,” said Matron, “Pens are terribly common these days–not a very fitting place to get one’s fortune.”

“I assure you, Matron,” Edmund said quickly, “These safe-pens would be terribly expensive. Quite out of reach of the common man.” Matron’s eyebrow raised, and she looked again at the tiny metal pen. After a moment, she gave a small sigh and shook her head.

“Smile all you want, boy, but there is no easy answer to what you’ve done. Pens may do us well for a year or two, but after that? We’re still a poor family among wolves–you’ll need to be on your toes more than ever to keep up the charade. The Families will expect things from you now, as will I. And the next time you won’t have the benefit of surprise. It would have been easier for you to barely scrape by.”

Deep in the core of Edmund’s mind, he saw a knight, standing before his queen, bowing low and saying that for the honor of the kingdom, his liege, and his family name, he had nobly journeyed forth to a foreign land. He had fought the bizarre creatures and disturbing natives that lived there, found an ancient treasure, and survived. And now, as he stood before his queen, he humbly placed his service into her hands, and proclaimed proudly for all to hear, that he had barely scraped by.

Edmund laughed, as long and loud as he ever had in a very long time.

“Very well,” Matron said, finally holding up a hand to silence him. “If you’re intent on fulfilling this charade to its fullest, there is only one thing to do. There is a school you will need to attend if you are going to convince the Families that you are a genius. Come inside, and I will tell you about Grimm’s School for the Intermittently Gifted.”

Matron and Edmund

“I received three letters today,” Matron said, her sharp voice cutting through Edmund’s thoughts. “They were polite thanks for a lovely dinner, and a promise to return when the wedding occurs.”

“Polite?” Edmund asked.

“Enough,” Matron sighed. “It’s the first time any of the nine families has sent even a marginally polite letter to a Moulde in at least a hundred years. You got three.”

A small gust of icy wind curled itself around Edmund’s legs. The chill was becoming less noticeable to him now. He let his mind wander as the breeze continued to blow.

“I think we should have Ung put Kahmlichimus back above the door,” he said after another pause, half turning to Matron. “I think it would be good to let people know what to expect, coming into our house.”

“Our house?” Matron looked at Edmund out of the corner of her eye. “I’m beginning to wonder if I made a wise choice in adopting you.”

“Are you having second thoughts?” Edmund asked, finally turning completely to look Matron in the eye. Her sharp gaze glittered in the fading light.

“Maybe,” she admitted, her face betraying nothing of her genuine thoughts. “You are definitely not going to be easy to control. Perhaps it would be wiser to cut you loose and carry on by myself.”

“You won’t,” Edmund said, looking back at the wrought-iron gate to Haggard Hill. “Because if you did, Wislydale would have you declared mentally unfit and snatch the estate from you. And the three families have witnessed my marriage. You need to keep me around.”

“So it would seem,” Matron said, and Edmund couldn’t tell if she was disappointed with that fact or not. “I wonder if you would have been able to successfully fight all three of them if they hadn’t agreed to witness for you? Would you have called in the writs?”

“I don’t know,” Edmund admitted. “I think I would have looked for another way, but if I had to, I would have.”

“You would have, wouldn’t you?” Matron nodded slowly. “You would have stood up to three of the Founding Families and all of their lawyers, connections, and ferocity with nothing more than three ancient scraps of paper, and try to take half of their fortunes from them.”

“I’d have won too,” Edmund said.

Matron’s mouth twitched.

“I wonder,” she said, after a pause. “The letters, the heads of the families, the food, the dress… what made you think your plan would succeed?”

Edmund looked over the dark dusky hill that rose above the city. He thought about the human body, and all the pieces working together towards a common goal, and the watch built of gears and springs. He thought how the body needed a brain, and the watch needed a mainspring. He thought about the stories of Knights who served a cause to fight off the chaos of barbarism, and always ended with marriage. He thought about Mrs. Mapleberry, who had never seemed to see him even when she was looking right at him; and Matron, who could somehow always see him even when she wasn’t.

“I’m a Moulde,” is what he said.