The sky over Neovia appeared to be perpetually gray. Theolounious Scrivenger glanced up at the cloud-filled expanse overhead for a mere moment before proceeding to the front door of his shop, pulling his keys out of the pocket of his light-brown jacket as he did so. He sighed lightly as he unlocked the door and let himself in.
He flicked on the lights and left the door open to allow the chilled air from outside to seep in. Theo headed for the counter next, upon which there lay the object of discord: a small Usuki doll with one of its ears in fragments. Theo dropped his keys onto the counter beside the doll and picked up the doll next, comparing the fragments to where they would fit along its ear. He had absolutely no desire to work today – in fact, it was his best friend's birthday today, and if he deigned not to show up at the party, Dempsey would positively have his hide – but as this doll was to be returned to the mayor's daughter, he knew it needed to be fixed immediately.
Theo went rummaging under the counter for some Mynci Glue, thinking that it typically took the glue a good hour or so to dry. He was unsure as to what he would do with the hour while he waited for the adhesive to finish; he thought maybe he could try to write a card for Dempsey, but he honestly had no clue what he would say in it. Hello, you are the best friend in the world. No; too abrupt and sappy. You deserve a happy life. No, Dempsey could only laugh at the irony.
The red Gelert carefully glued the shattered ear back together with the Mynci Glue and his nimble fingers. When he was finished, he cautiously set down the toy and took a step back, brushing one of his red ears out of his face. Theo considered simply leaving the toy and giving it to the mayor's daughter tomorrow, but he understood that there was more than a silly toy here at stake.
Theo seated himself in the convenient wooden chair he had situated behind the counter of the shop. He sat there for a few minutes, clasping his hands over his stomach and watching the open door idly, until he could no longer sit still. He could only think of Dempsey and how disappointed the Halloween Kougra would be if he was late. After all, Theo reflected rather sarcastically, a birthday only comes once a year.
He thought of his own birthdays, and mentally compared them to Dempsey's. All in all, Dempsey fared much better than he did. Theo had no idea where his parents were and if they realized he still existed at all; Dempsey's parents never failed to show at their son's birthday parties, and always gave him lavish gifts. It was no help that Dempsey was unusually accustomed to the wealthy life of a tailor, as he was one of the apprentices at Prigpants and Swolthy's a few streets away.
Theo shook his head to clear it and refocused on the door, trying to find something else to think about. Instead of having to dig around for something, though, something quite abruptly came to him: in fact, it appeared in the doorway. It was a tall dark fellow, with a scaly sort of tail and a few light-blue spikes protruding in a rather graceful way from his back. "Hello," said Theo, when the stranger said nothing. "Are you looking for something?"
"No," said the stranger, stepping further into the shop. "I do not seek something. I seek someone." The stranger reached up to thumb his hat backwards slightly, revealing a pair of eerie yellow eyes. Theo shifted slightly in his chair. He was unnerved a little, sure, but living here for five years meant that he knew how strange the folk in Neovia could be. "Would you happen to know the whereabouts of Cyrus Scrivenger?"
Theo opened his mouth to report that he had no idea who that was, but closed it again just as quickly. He straightened up in his chair and tugged on his collar, hoping he appeared presentable in case this fellow was as important as he appeared, even with his lopsided stance and his odd eyes. "I was unaware such a person lived in Neovia," said Theo carefully. The stranger's eyes darkened to a fuller, golden shade. "But I am Theolounious Scrivenger, if that helps you at all. Is there a message you intended for me?" Perhaps this stranger was only someone that had been incidentally told to look for a Cyrus rather than a Theo.
The stranger's eyes lightened again. "Yes, actually," he said, revealing a row of white, sharp-looking teeth in a crooked grin. "I suppose I was looking for you after all. Unless, of course, your father would not happen to be lingering somewhere in the back room?"
"I don't know my father," said Theo shortly.
A somewhat awkward silence permeated the air for a moment before the stranger shrugged one shoulder. "All right then," said the stranger agreeably. "I wonder, though, if you know something that he once knew." Theo doubted it, but he looked at the stranger in anticipation anyway, somewhat hoping that he knew the answer to whatever question the stranger had. "Do you know the whereabouts of the Grimoire of Inkdeath?"
Theo felt a shiver crawl down his spine. He could have sworn in that moment that the lights inside the shop dimmed slightly, almost down to the low level of the gray light outside. "No," said Theo slowly, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at the stranger. "But I have a feeling if you hung around in one of the alleys tonight, one of the people you meet may know where it is." Theo hesitated. "What even is this... Grimoire?"
"How can you not know?" the stranger suddenly burst, turning away in disgust. "Your father knew, his father knew, his father knew... It should have extended along the family line!" The stranger seemed to be muttering this last part to himself, as he had taken to examining his fingernails with a great deal of interest.
"Could you not explain it to me, then?" asked Theo, growing irritable. He stood up and stepped forward to lean against the counter, keeping his eyes trained on the stranger. "If it was supposed to be passed down my family line, why could you not tell me what it is?"
The stranger kept his eyes away from Theo's for a very long moment. Theo considered asking the question again: but the stranger quickly whirled around to face Theo, pushing his hat further out of his face as he did. "You want to know the secrets of the Grimoire that you should already know," the stranger hissed, walking closer to the counter. "I would think you were lying if I could not already sense the truth in you. The Grimoire, Theolounious Scrivenger, is the reason that you have never understood. It is the reason that there are things you fix: it is the reason that things break. If you want to know more you will have to ascertain the details on your own."
Theo's stomach had begun to twist. With the shadow of the hat away from the stranger's face, he grew more and more sure that he recognized the stranger: that this stranger was, in fact, no stranger at all. The stranger smiled and nodded. "Good day, Mr. Scrivenger," said the stranger, backing toward the door. "I wish you well. I have a feeling that we shall soon meet again... under differing circumstances, of course."
With that, Mr. Isaac Krawley vanished into the foggy street.
Theo stared at the door for a few seconds, openmouthed. He had not yet been in Neovia when Mr. Krawley cursed the town with a simple elixir, but he had heard plenty, and he had seen pictures of the diabolical Krawk. We shall soon meet again? thought Theo, swallowing hard. I don't want to meet him again...
The red Gelert looked down at the Usuki doll and absently reached for the broken ear, touching it gently. The glue seemed to have dried, even though it had to have been less than fifteen minutes. Theo looked back at the door through which Mr. Krawley had disappeared and shook his head, picking up the doll and his keys from the counter. As much as he had altogether disliked the encounter, he kind of wanted to know more about this Grimoire. He wanted to know why it was related to him at all.
As Theo exited his shop and closed and locked the door behind him, someone watched from the shadows nearby. The first step of the plan had been put into action. Soon, she knew, the Scrivenger boy would discover the Grimoire and its meaning, and then it would all begin.