The secret library was just as amazing as Amy remembered it. Books lined shelf after shelf after shelf of dark wood, some looking extremely old, other slightly newer, but all undoubtably worth a small fortune just by themselves. The floor was covered by Oriental carpet and light shone from several glass chandeliers hanging overhead, and various furniture was spaced throughout the room, as well as several filing cabinets, papers, maps, and a computer.
Amy and Dan looked around in wonder as they set off at a quick pace through the shelves, Alistair right behind them.
"To think, all of this was here, and all that was saved before was one book," the old man said, running his hand along several leather-bound spines. "Most of these works are priceless."
Neither sibling answered him for a moment as they finally spotted what they were searching for. "Saladin!" Dan cried as he picked up the cat, holding him close as he yawned and stretched slightly, opening one eye to peer up at the boy carelessly. Amy stroked a hand over Saladin's fur as she picked up the object the cat had been sitting on; Grace's jewelery box. She tucked it safely away in her backpack without opening it, knowing that time was of the essence.
"Yeah," she said, in reply to Alistair's words. "Dan, go grab Poor Richard's Almanack and then go check out those filing cabinets. Grab anything that looks important." Dan left without a word, still clutching Saladin to his chest. All of them knew what Amy meant by important; although everything in the library was of great value, both in terms of money and knowledge - particularly in regards to the clues - there could be information regarding the Vespers that they could desperately use. They were the main threat, after all.
"Uncle Alistair, here, take this and take pictures of as many of those maps and papers that you can," Amy handed Alistair a camera that they had grabbed earlier from the mansion. The Korean nodded and set off at a brisk pace towards several of the tables.
Amy glanced longingly at the computer nearby, the screen of which was frozen on the password lock. There was no time to waste trying to guess the password, and she had always let Evan and Sinead handle the hacking part of their missions. Her mind paused for a second as she thought of Evan, but she forcefully gave herself a shake and snapped out of it. Now was not the time to wonder if her boyfriend had come back in time as well, or what she would do if he hadn't.
The Madrigal headed off, going deeper into the library. The shelves seemed endless, and she had to force herself not to go too deep. It was nothing short of incredible, the works that were hidden down there; original writings and masterpieces from centuries ago, long thought lost to the world. Famous names and titles leaped out at her from every side, making her head swim in awe. Amy dearly wished that they could save all of them, but she knew that it simply wasn't possible. That didn't stop her from slipping a few of the most amazing pieces into her bag, careful not to weigh it down too much.
When she had filled her bag with as much as she could without it getting too awkward or stuffed, Amy cast one last look longingly at the shelves before turning on her heel and heading back to where Dan and Alistair were still busy.
Amy opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it with a sharp intake of breath as the all-too familiar acrid smell of smoke began to taint the air. Dread filled her as she raced towards the other two, calling their names urgently.
"Dan! Uncle Alistair! We have to go, now!"
Neither of them hesitated as they whirled around and met her halfway to the stairs, all of them racing up the steps as the smell grew stronger. Amy could feel the walls growing slowly hotter around them as they burst out into the main library (she was glad that they had thought ahead and propped the door open. Amy had no desire to crawl through the vents again), barely stumbling as the full heat of the fire hit them head on. The room was already ablaze, with the once-grand furniture turning black as flames licked them.
"Come on!" Dan shouted as Saladin yowled in his arms, leading the way out of the room and down the hall. All of them were sprinting, heading for the nearest door as the mansion burned around them. Part of Amy was frozen in fear, but thankfully her instincts had kicked in and kept her moving. It was getting difficult to breathe through the smoke, and Amy's heart clenched as she heard Dan begin to cough - with his asthma, this was all ten times worse for him.
Part of the ceiling collapsed in a blazing heap in front of them, causing them to skid to a halt as their exit was cut off. Fear raced through Amy, but she couldn't allow it to consume her as she spun on her heel and yelled, "This way!"
Dan and Alistair followed her without question, the former now wheezing. Amy ran a little ways back down the hall and turned through a doorway, running across the smoke-filled room towards the window at top speed.
There was no time to question what she was about to do, and Amy didn't hesitate as she slammed her entire body weight against the glass, feeling it shatter beneath her as she fell. Glass pierced all over her skin as she hit the ground hard and began to roll down the tall, grassy hill beside the burning mansion.
The world was a blur as she tumbled, but Amy thought she spotted two human-shaped blobs following her rough path down towards the graveyard. On and on she went, unable to slow her descent as she clutched her backpack protectively to her chest and bits of sticks and rock stabbed at her all the way down.
At long last, Amy's momentum began to slow. Thankfully, she managed to come to a complete stop before she slammed into one of the tombstones. The world spun around her as she gasped for breath, blinking the smoke out of her eyes. Dan! Alistair! Amy pushed herself up, ignoring the pain and nausea that instantly protested the action, and looked around. She heaved a sigh of relief as she spotted both of them lying several feet away, groaning and gasping. Dan already had his inhaler out, and was taking a grateful puff as he clutched a very angry and hissing Saladin.
Amy turned to look back up at the mansion, feeling her heart break all over again as the grand builidng burned to the ground. Tears stung at her eyes as she held her backpack tightly. Her gaze drifted to the collapsed figure of Mr. McIntyre some distance away, exactly where he had been the first time around, and then, pulled as though by a powerful magnet, over to a figure dressed in all black, half-hidden amongst the trees and watching them through a pair of binoculars. Amy's still short breath caught in her throat.