Unusual things happened around Dodo Studios. It was a fact of life. One did not build a toon establishment in Einquell and fill it with toons with a penchant for stunts, hijinks, magic, and shenanigans, and expect it to be run of the mill. But Larry was starting to suspect that something unusual-er was afoot.
The corner of the prop room that he had cordoned off for himself was not exactly the Ritz, but it was cheaper than the inn and warmer than a lot of places he had slept. And the Engineer had gone to such lengths to make sure that he would have his privacy, so, he could be confident that people wouldn't be sneaking in on him when he was sleeping or anything.
But he'd started finding…. Stuff.
Little stuff, nothing that you would generally notice. Crumbs and little things like buttons and such, appearing on the floor. That could be expected.
But when it finally clicked that these little tiny objects were all appearing in the same place- in a neat little row in front of his banjo stand in the corner -he had to admit that there had to be more to it.
So he started paying attention.
They'd started out as cookie crumbs and pieces of popcorn. He'd swept them up without a thought.
Then there was ribbon and buttons. Bits of confetti. A clump of fur (ripped out of Charlie's tail, so far as he could figure). Star stickers. A pen lid. Staples.
He had checked himself, and even had the Engineer check, to make sure there were not any problems with the precautions put into place, but there was not the slightest crack in the security.
"Are y' sure yer not jus' droppin' stuff out o yer pockets, lad?" The director asked him.
"...Very." Was the response. "I don't… put these things in my pockets in the first place."
"Hm." There was a pause as the Engineer tapped a talon against his chin in thought. "Well, 'ow abou' ah lend y' a camera?" He suggested. "Set it up in th' corner there, n' let it run. See wot y' get."
It was abundantly clear that the Engineer didn't think there was going to be much captured except the wall, but he wasn't going to say so. Besides, it was bothering Larry enough for him to say something, so he was willing to do what he had to to put his mind at ease.
"....Thanks." Larry answered. "I'd appreciate that."
"Think nothin' of it!"
So, one of the studio's cameras was set up on the far wall, hidden among the props and costumes, recording away while business as usual continued elsewhere in the studio. When the day was done, Larry fished out the camera, and with what had become practiced ease by now, pulled out the reel and set it up on a projector beside the bed.
The odds were good for there being something at least, as he had a pebble, a bottle cap, some seeds, and a small, downy white feather in a neat little row in the usual place.
So, he played the footage, skipping through the bulk of it until finally, right at the end, there was movement.
Right above the instrument stand in the wall, there was a vent. And if it wasn't for the flash of yellow from inside it, he might have missed the cover on it opening.
"Right, the coast is clear." A voice said softly.
As Larry watched, a small flying creature slipped out of the vent, and held it open to allow for several other small figures to drop down out of it.
"I still don't see why we can't just give Him the offerings." One of them was saying. "Then He could at least tell us if he likes them or not."
The flying yellow creature, a bee maybe, shook his head. "We've been through this. No."
"Yeah! His temple is His private space when He's in it!" One of the others retorted. "I'm sure this time He'll like the offerings."
They placed the items on the floor, and lit two itty bitty candles, which they placed on either end of the items.
"O Larry, please accept these offerings, and continue to give us protection." They chanted softly together, before sitting in silence for a few seconds.
"I still think we should try and get a tail feather from the Eyeless One." Was the remark that broke the solemn silence. "I bet He'd love that."
"The last time you tried to steal from the Eyeless One it went horribly." The bee scolded. "He'd notice you pulling out one of his feathers!"
"Yeah, but He held onto the Changing Beast fur for a lot longer than some of the other stuff."
"Please don't try and steal from the Eyeless One again. It's dangerous!"
There was some mumbling that Larry couldn't catch, presumably some sort of sulky compliance.
"Welp. We best press on before He comes back."
As the tiny creatures packed up the candles and made their way back to the vent, Larry noticed something else about his little visitors. Every one of them had about their person a mask, just like his. Not necessarily wearing it like he did, one of them had it on their hip, for example.
In no time at all, the tiny creatures had left back through the vent, and the room was silent again.
Larry turned off the projector.
"Well…" He mused to himself. "That… sure is… something.."
The security clearly didn't cover the vent. Though if those little guys were malicious, they probably would have done something before now. He wasn't sure how he was going to explain these little people to the Engineer and the others, though. The 'Eyeless One'? Not the most creative name, but self explanatory enough.
He sighed and pulled the film reel out of the projector and carried it with him as he headed for the door, deep in thought. It had almost sounded like a church service of some sort, with the candles, and the chanting…
He stepped through the door to the hall and looked up. The hall did not look like the hall.
No, in fact it looked more like… well, a blank slate. There was a floor, at least. And, visitors. A black cat like woman in a large cloak was seated at a fancy table with a dog like woman with huge hair. In the middle of a room with no walls.
They looked up as he approached. "Oh!" The woman with the huge hair exclaimed, putting down her tea cup. "Hello!"
"....Hey." Larry responded, really not sure what to make of all this. "Sorry I… must have… taken a wrong turn somewhere."
The cat woman looked at him over her tea cup. "You don't just make a wrong turn." She said. "You came here and interrupted our tea on purpose."
"Missy! Be nice!" Her companion scolded. "Can't you see he's new?"
She was suddenly standing over him, smiling in a friendly way. "Oh yes, you're a patron, right? You smell like your warlock has only been sworn to you for a short while though…"
"There seems to have been a mistake." Larry droned. "I'm just a guy… not a patron."
"Can't fool me sweetpea!" She giggled. "Don't worry, I can tell you have a good relationship with your devotee. They must love you very much."
Larry glanced down at the film reel in his hand, but didn't respond.
"Where were you trying to get to, sweetpea?"
"... the office at the studio." He told her.
"Oh! Well, pop back through your door, I'm sure it's nearby."
He looked over his shoulder at the door frame behind him, glowing in a... weirdly familiar way.
"Well." He said, turning. "Was nice meeting you."
She waved excitedly. "Byeeeee~!"
The other woman only sipped her tea as he closed the door behind him.
"I like him!"
"You like everyone, Lalu."
The hall he had been expecting was on the other side of that door. Which was a relief. But also a worry. What was that place? Looking behind him, his glowing door was gone, and the room that should be there, was.
"Ah! There y'are!"
Larry turned, spotting the Engineer coming towards him, glowing a cheerful orange. "How'd y' go? Find anythin' regardin' yer mystery mess makers?"
Larry hesitated. If he told the Engineer, he might get angry at the little people living somewhere in the studio (or breaking and entering on the regular at least) and he didn't think the short director would be too pleased.
They seemed to like him a fair bit. Maybe he could talk to them instead. He didn't want them to get hurt because of him, after all.
"No." He said finally, dropping the reel into a nearby garbage bin. "Nothing to worry about after all."