There have always been places in our world where magic gathers.
You can see it, if you look close enough. You might see an ancient horse and cart passing down a modern high-street; or a cobbled alleyway that people walk into, but never out of. Now and again, you might see it in a person – someone who looks like they’ve stepped straight out of an old photograph. Or, perhaps, someone whose bag seems to hover off the ground catches your eye in a coffee shop. And when you look again they, and their bag, have disappeared.
And, occasionally, you see magic in shops.
Squashed between brand name stores and fancy displays, the shops soaked in magic are never eye-catching, or ostentatious. Their windows are stained with dirt and dust, and sometimes their signs have peeled away so much that it looks as though ghost letters are trying to work their way through. Magic does not wish to be noticed, you see. And most people are happy to pretend it does not exist.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency was very much like a magical shop should be.
The leaded windows were dirty and cracked. There was peeling paint on the front door and it hardly ever seemed to be open. However, there was one element of the shop that refused to fade into the background: the sign over the window. It was always clearly painted, in silky gold letters embellished with black against a ruby-red background. There was one globe at the beginning of the sign and another at the end. The shop was out of its time, for certain, and yet the name was blazoned for all to see.