One afternoon after lunch, quite unanticipated, the Erudite Orb that floated invariable in front of his wardrobe, began to a flash on and off. Walter was laying on his bed reading his school book when he noticed it. He sat up and stared at it for a few minutes. He has never seen it go off like that. Why now? Walter got out of bed and slowly walked to it. When the orb sensed Walters’ proximity it stopped glowing.
“Mr. Banny,” Archibal’s voice echoed from out of the orb. “I have just returned to the manor. We shall continue our lessons as planned. Be here tomorrow at our usual time.” The orb went quiet. It transmitted a message from Archibal. Interesting. Walter couldn’t wait for tomorrow he had so much to tell him. He went back to his bed and continued reading his book. He had just been able to catch up on all his assignments. He didn’t want to disappoint Archibal and have him think he has was wasting his time teaching them for nothing.
He wanted to put in the hard work, especially since it gave them the chance to be at the manor where they got to witness the magic. Archibal was strict, but sometimes when they finished their lessons he would let them go into one of the rooms where a life all its own came to existence. One of the rooms they got to experience was the astrology room. Walter and Alden would go and lay down and watch the constellation float around them. The stars moved about and sometimes they were able to interact with them. Archibal had promised them that if they kept up with their studies, passed their exams with favorable expectations and attend his lessons regularly. He would allow them to enter any room. He warned them that the rooms shifted around. Where the astrology room was once became the room of plants and herbs. It was just one of the qualities of the manor. Of course it had other secrets, Archibal would never tell them. If they failed to keep up their studies, pass the exams, or attend the lessons. The rooms would be verboten until Archibal was satisfied.
The next morning, Walter went to pick up Alden and together they arrived at the manor where Archibal was waiting for them in the library. They knew better than to come in rollicking in the room, Archibal expected manners at all times. Archibal had no patience for ballyhoo. They walked in, set their books down, go up to Archibal and tell him everything. Archibal doesn’t interrupt them, but listens carefully. When they finish, Archibal looks more angry than worried.
“That’s it!” he gnarls and leaves the room. Walter and Alden not wanting to miss a thing follow him into the foyer into the corridor to the left of the library. Archibal was a tall man that could move very fast for his size. All Walter could see was the end of his robe turning corner after corner. They had to run to catch up to him. By the time they did, he was in a small, dim room, adjusted with different size shelves from ceiling to the floor. The shelves are stuffed with manuscripts, scrolls and papyrus, which have been yellowed and tattered by time. Some shelves contained very old tomes and journals so old, they looked like the pages would crumble to the touch. Archibal was looking at one of these journals. Walter could hear the crisp and crinkle of every page that Archibal meticulously turned.
The strong smell of mustiness mixed with a hint of vanilla, a tang of acidity and grassy notes hit Walter’s nose, overwhelming him. They stood watching Archibal deeply enthralled in the journal he held. Alden nudges Walter to look to his left of the room. It was room and despite the poor lighting, it was filled with many curious objects.
From where Walter stood he could see shelves of overcrowded jars of every size, containing fluids and organisms. Walter wondered if it was a lavatory for experiments. Without realizing it, he walked in the room. Alden had already stepped inside, amidst the chaos of skeletons of ancient creatures, shelves of horns, bones, bottles, and other dead specimens. On the wall, hanged busts of creatures Walter had never seen before. He recognized the crocotta. This creatures head was larger than the one he had confronted. It terrified him to think how large they grew.
From somewhere, Walter could hear water bubbling and the smell that rose from it was pungent. A very long table pushed against the wall was cluttered with odd objects and drawings. One drawing was of the Psychai being dissected. It horrified Walter. Was this Archibal’s doing? He walked on to the other objects of preserved animals, more drawings and strange ornaments. The table stretched to one wall to the next and There was a velvet case with various wands, neatly placed in rows. He also discovered the cause of the pungent smell. It came from a small caldron being cooked on a pile of charcoal. Whatever it was the smell was unbearable.
As he headed deeper into the room, he saw Alden standing in front of something. When he got closer he saw what Alden was looking at. It was a glass coffin and someone laid in it. A man dressed in soldier clothing long gone out of fashion since fifty years ago. He looked like he was sleeping, but maybe he was dead. Walter was captivated by the whole thing that he did not hear Archibal approached them from behind.