Meanwhile…

In the small room of a nondescript home in the middle of a busy street, a young man perfectly fills up a blank book. The characters are all in a straight line, all within equal distance of each other. No one would ever think they’re written by a human hand.

This is his favorite pastime. In fact, it’s his only pastime. He enjoys the order and the uniformity. Everything lined up perfectly. No messy scrawls. No letters dancing chaotically on the page.

His home is just as organized. Every little detail in its own place. It’s why he barely entertains any visitors. Those who do come are careful not to disturb his belongings, for the young man has quite the temper when things are in disarray.

A soft rap on his door causes him to pause his work. He sets his fountain pen down beside his book and invites the person on the other side to enter.

The door opens a small crack and a figure glides in, accompanied by the sweet smell of apples. On their first meeting, he found the scent irritating. He would always search for an escape or an open window from which to get fresh air. That changed the longer they worked together.

Beneath the cloak, a voice hisses. Sinister, but also mesmerizing; all characteristic of an Ophidian. “Higgenbottom has been arrested, and the girl has been taken into the fold.”

The man stands and drifts over to his floor-to-ceiling bookshelf. It’s filled with copies of the same book he’s been writing on. Black leather covers all aligned, all bearing his initials on their lower spines.

His eyes methodically scan the rows until he finds the exact book he’s looking for. Carefully, he pries it from its place and then flips through the pages.

FIDELIA JOINS THE DETECTIVE AT VERY LARGE is written on one. Lines of instructions above it have been neatly checkmarked.

A few more pages after that are the words: MISS HIGGENBOTTOM IS IMPRISONED. He brings the book back to his desk and, with a great deal of satisfaction, marks it.

The man is pleased with how smoothly his plans are coming to fruition. Best of all, no one except he and his colleague knows that he is pulling all the strings.

Several other events are set to happen before the grand finale, and from what he’s seen, they should be unfolding soon and in a most dramatic fashion. He simply has to sit back and watch the dominos he fastidiously arranged continue to ripple out. 

For while the man may hate chaos, when he’s the mastermind, he absolutely loves it.

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