"We have this joke about our friend Cacha, her people named her 'The Red Mistress.' She is a formidable warrior, but even more so, she is very dependable and fearless. Nothing ever seemed to stop her; not foes, not fear, not the unknown," Gam said, although its gaze was not centered on me, but on the book it had just pulled. "The master's foolish friend used to say that if we ever found ourselves at a loss, that we should..."

I walked up close and looked at the spine of the book. It read: 'Ask The Red Mistress.'

"But that's all in the past," Gam said, leaving the book pulled out just a bit. "There's a mechanism in the first bookcase. It's a tiny pressure plate. When the weight is removed from the plate, the mechanism activates, removing the middle bookcase... moving the book back, and applying weight on the tiny plate once again, makes the middle bookcase slide back up. Simple, but not less mysterious."

I looked up at Gam, its red eye was not focused on me but on the shelf.

"Why would my uncle do that?" I asked. "This seems like an awful lot of work."

Gam made a raspy noise; It sounded like laughter.

"I thought the same. You're very smart. I see you have many things in common with the master of the house. He was also a very smart man," Gam looked down. For a moment, I thought it was smiling at me, even if it had no mouth. "I don't think the master of the house prepared this just for his amusement. He was a very open person. Transparent even. He never kept secrets- that is not to say he was an open book. He was, like any gentleman, a reserved individual. But even so, he was not the type to have secret rooms in his mansion. Unless..."

"Unless what?" I asked, trying to distract myself form the growing fear in my mind. Nothing, not the water-door, or the strange room, or the mansion, were at all like my uncle. He'd been a carefree man, never showing interest in physical possessions. It bothered me, like the point of a dagger pressed against the soft of my belly. I almost didn't want to believe it anymore.

And yet, all I had were... questions.

My uncle had never been a man to keep secrets. He'd been honest, and kind, and carefree.

"Unless, there's a purpose to this room," Gam took a step aside, one hand pointing at the water-door. "I have been thinking, little one. There's something here that seems too big of a coincidence."

"What is that?" I asked, stepping closer. I looked at the door. The surface whirled like the waters of a pond during rain. Whatever lay beyond it, I could not see it clearly.

"Only you could've opened the door leading here, and only I could have pulled the book with the mechanism on it," Gam looked at me, its red eye half-covered by a yellow metallic eyelid. "This is not happenstance. Your uncle, the master of the house, must've intended for us to meet."

"But why?" I asked, scratching my temple. It all felt like too much. I was tired. I wanted to sleep, forget about the whole mess... and wake up at the farm. Everything had been so much easier back then. I longed for the sleep that came after a day of work. Had I been given the chance, I would've slept. I would've tried to forget everything; the secrets, the mansion, the portraits- everything.

Thankfully for those who needed us, I would soon find something that would rid me of sleep for a long time.

"I don't know," Gam said, looking down. It began to unbutton its vest and suit shirt. "I don't know what is to come next. You see, I've walked into that room." Gam opened the top of its shirt, revealing a long and deep cut on its yellow metal chest. Unlike a real chest, it bore no hair or wrinkles. It was just metal, flat, devoid of features, other than the long gash that was now drawing a diagonal line across its chest.

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