Kat stood shakily to her feet her eyes never leaving the wolf Theodulus. She stood in on the cobblestone road between the houses of Fritters Alley the one place she'd wanted to be but not quite sure why she was standing there. How had the wolf known this was her destination? It was perplexing, her mind was running around in circles as she tried to figure out how. She watched the wolf's every move. He strutted down the road deliberately slow, almost toying with her. He sauntered to a stop next to the faded apple red door of a stone house. The bottom of the door was covered in deep gashes.
Theodulus lifted his paw and placed it on door. He looked at Kat. She knew what he was going to do.
"No Theodulus don't!" Kat ordered.
The wolf dragged his paw down the door cutting into the wood with his long claws. The wood splintered easily with a noise like crackling flames.
"No!" Kat cried rushing over to him and removing his paw from the door. Holding his large paw in her hand she became acutely aware of how large and dangerous he was. A shiver ran down her spine. She released his paw and straightened up.
Theodulus cast her a curious look.
The door was ripped open.
"Dammit Toby I thought I told you to knock!" The man holding the door shouted glaring out at Kat and Theodulus. He froze, his eyes traveled from Theodulus to Kat. His eyes hardened.
"Not Toby. I see...and who are you?" He addressed Kat.
The lean, elderly man that stood framed in the door way had receding white hair that formed a wispy halo along the back of his head. His small hazel eyes peeked out over from under wrinkled lids. His entire face was creased with thin wrinkles that weighed down his tired, old skin.
He was just as the sketch had depicted him. Almost frozen in time and unaged for twenty years.
"The mapmaker of Fritters Alley." Kat said unable to hide her excitement.
The old man raised his bushy gray eyebrows in an amused fashion.
"It's just Skipper, you can call me Skipper." He said folding his arms across his chest. "I’m going to guess you’re here for a map.” He said with a vaguely mocking smile.
"No, no.” Kat laughed. “That’s not why I’m here…I need your help."
"Maps are helpful." Skipper offered lazily. "How are you doing?" He asked Theodulus.
Theodulus raised his shoulders as if to shrug.
"Not the kind of help I need.” Kat said.
"I'm a mapmaker I'm not paid to be helpful." He bent over and mussled Theodulus' hair. "The best I can do for you is, scribble a map on some crusty piece of paper."
The man before her had changed greatly since her father had left for he didn’t match the description at all she sincerely hoped the description of the mapmaker had not been written ironically. However, her father had changed as well over the years. She tried not to think about the man he’d become, this was not the time for it.
Skipper leaned coolly against the door frame looking Kat over curiously.
“Um what exactly do you need help with?” He asked unable to kind his intrigue.
“Can I trust you?” Kat asked watching him closely.
Skipper took a moment to mull the question over carefully before answering.
"Trust is a very strong word, depends on what you want me to do for you. Yes your trust should be proportional to your request and me generally not giving a damn." He said lightly.
He hadn’t lost his sense of humor.
“Afraid I’ll bring trouble?” she asked.
“Child you’re wearing a scarf over your face I’m pretty sure you are trouble.”
“You have no idea.” She said pulling the scarf from her face. “Adrian Parker sends his regards.”
Skipper straightened up quickly his face slackening in surprise as his gazed at Kat lost in some memory. The moment passed quickly and his eyes hardened into anger. He pulled Kat inside. Theodulus bounded in behind her. The room beyond the door was small and cluttered though there were very few pieces of furniture they seemed to take up most of the space. Kat really stumbled into a table as she hurried into the room. Skipper locked the door quickly, his thin fingers slipping on the workings. Once the lock clicked he turned to Kat with a look of sad disbelief and slight anger in his eyes but it was not aimed at her.
“What’s happened? What have they done?!”