In the city of Padavia, a single lamp glowed in a window. Pajio was reading late into the night, as usual. He had found this book at an ancient bookstore. Rescued it, really. Signor Franco had gone batty, chucking his stock out into the muddy streets. Pajio had just barely grabbed the book before it was ruined for good.
The book itself intrigued him. The paper was fine, the print perfect. It was bound with strange glue he had never seen before in Talia. The cover was stiff, thick, and a long, colored paper wound around it.
Fascinated, he had brought it home and began to read. It was a story of wonders: carriages that needed no horses, amazing games that fit in the palm of your hand, music that you could listen to through a box!
He read until he could no longer see the words before his eyes. Finally, he drifted to sleep, fingers lightly resting on the book.
Pajio came aware of his surroundings with a start. For a moment, he thought he was in a dream directly out of the strange book. Large carriages rumbled past, but no beast drew them. Many people bustled around him, ignoring the disoriented boy.
He walked slowly, careful to avoid the strange carriages—cars, they were called. His eyes scanned the huge buildings to his left. They glowed from within with unflickering light.
Relief spread through him as he noticed one thing he could understand. A small bookshop was squeezed between two stores advertising revealingly tight clothing. He hurried inside.
As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, Pajio noticed an older woman with spiky white hair. He had the distinct impression that, had she had color in her hair, she would dye it something completely outlandish. He smiled shyly at her.
"You seem lost," the woman commented. "What are you looking for?"
Pajio contemplated this. He was looking for answers. He was looking for home. He was looking for a way out of this dream. "I just read this book," he said, surprising himself. He hadn't noticed the book clutched in his hand. "Do you have any stories like it?"
The woman took the book and rifled through it. Comprehension dawned on her face. "By any chance, do you know how Belleza's Duchessa fares?"
He stared. "Uh…the Duchessa and Signor Luciano do fine, ma'am. No one would know that she is nearing sixty."
The woman smiled wistfully. Pajio wondered what memories she was lost in.
Abruptly she looked at him. "We are currently in London, England. Anglia, as you know it. My name is Georgia, and you and I are Stravagante."