“What do you make of it?” The witch stood on an outcropping, a barren desert out ahead of the two of them. Meager wisps of sand floated off of cracked rocks, shifting into flurries as titanic footsteps echoed across the the wasteland.

“At least three kilometers tall, Miss.” the combat doll watched the titan in the distance through a pair of beaten binoculars. “It’s as we suspected.”

“Miss can defeat it, right?” A servitor doll clutched to the witch’s side, clearly panicked by the titan’s presence.

“It’s not a fight we want.” He felt the air for leylines, wisps of magic rising and evaporating from his fingers as he focused. “This place is too dry. The first leylines haven’t formed yet… we’re going have to find a natural spring.”

“Miss’ll run out of rations before we do,” the combat doll observed. “The nearest sanctuary is a two week march from here.”

“It is… but there should be a thermal vent within four day’s distance, if we push ourselves.”

“If Miss pushes himself. We can last far longer.”

“I suppose so.” He gave a slight smile, looking towards the frightened servitor doll. “Will you make it, Lilac?”

“Of course Miss,” it whispered, watching the titan continue its patrol. “Anything for Miss.”

The witch awoke to the sound of distant cawing, the night still strong with the light of countless youthful stars. He shifted slowly, pulling himself from the weight of the sleeping servitor doll, and left the tent as silently as he could. In front of the tent, next to the still smoldering embers of a campfire, the combat doll sat, staring up at the sky, rifle in hand as it waited vigilantly.

“This one never thought it’d see anything like this,” it murmured as he sat next to it, entranced. “So many stars…”

“No pollution to get in the way.” He looked up at the impossibly bright stars wistfully. “I’d almost enjoy it, if not for the prospect of starvation.”

“Miss can’t die,” it looked to him with a serious expression. “This one can’t watch Lilac.”

“You’ve done it before, though.”

“It has, but Lilac can be a… handful. It needs Miss. This one needs Miss.”

“You almost sound a little worried, Scout.” He gave a quiet laugh. “Do you think we won’t make it out of this one?”

“It was a powerful curse, Miss. It won’t be so simple to reverse.”

“And I’m a powerful witch. Have faith, doll. Enjoy the sights. It’s not every day that a witch and his dolls get to see the world as it was when it was young.”

“Miss may have a point.” It finally smiled back, returning its gaze to the stars.

“Miss! Wake up!” The servitor doll desperately shook its Miss, the sounds of precision shots echoing through the air. “Miss! Please!”

The witch snapped awake, hand alight with arcane flame and gripping around the doll’s neck… until the clarity returned to his eyes, and he blinked to consciousness, dropping his magicks as he looked around. “What’s going on?”

“Miss had a nightmare!” It pulled him to his feet, dragging him out of the tent as it released the incantation holding the makeshift camp together. “He was dreaming, and they found him!”

“Calm, Lilac.” Scout released another shot, scooping up the encampment charm and motioning for the two to fall back with it. “A dozen targets left, Miss. Immune to conventional rounds. May be angelic in nature.”

“Any confirmed kills?”

“Two. Each took a full clip of the uranium rounds, this one has… one clip left.”

“Then we need to get away.” He held out a palm, looking to his servitor doll. “Lilac, if you would.”

“Miss can’t do that!” It pleaded, a tremor coming in its voice. “He doesn’t have enough magicks left!”

“I have enough to make this count, so please, doll, do as I ask.”

It nodded, Scout beginning to empty its rifle as its brother slit their Miss’ palm, releasing the witch’s blood to the earth as he began his incantation, perhaps the first of its kind the world yet had seen. The air rippled and convulsed around them, the horizon turning a blood red as the stars blotted out one by one… until, in an instant, the three were gone, a glyph burnt into the dried clay where they had once stood.

When the witch awoke, his dolls were hovering over him, watching him intently.

“That was incredibly foolish,” the combat doll said curtly.

“It worked,” he coughed, trying to move and immediately being held down. Both his dolls had IVs connected to him, transferring their own magick-infused fluids to his veins. A substitute that would quickly make him feel ill, but enough to replenish his body’s reservoir. “Are we close, now?”

“Another day still to go.” Scout tied off its tube, standing up to look out of the cave they’d retreated to, the sound of the titan’s footsteps closer than ever. “They’ve been alerted to us.- “-Miss has nearly exhausted his magicks, but they will carve what remains from his corpse if they find us.”

“Then we’ll have to make sure they don’t.” He once again tried to sit up, only to now be held down by his servitor doll. “Lilac, we need to get going.”

“Miss needs his rest,” it had a rare intensity to its voice, continuing to drip its dollblood into his. “Miss needs to let us into his dreams.”

“It’s right,” the combat doll murmured, now resting against the cave wall as it kept watch. “They found us by your nightmare, Miss.”

“It won’t happen again,” he grimaced, the pain of the magical drain beginning to take its toll. “I’ll make sure of it.”

“Yes, Miss will, by letting his dolls back into his mind.” It gave him a look, then looked to Lilac. “Miss has enough doll blood in him now, it doesn’t think he could keep us out anyways.”

“No, Miss couldn’t.” The servitor doll nodded. “Sleep, Miss, or this one will find the ether.”

He attempted to protest, but quickly decided against it, letting himself drift off to a rare, unprotected, sleep, under the gaze of his two dolls.

They stood at the edge of the volcanic fissure, a ravine stretching deep underground to expose the slow churn of fresh magma from the molten core. On the rafts of blistering hot heat, the purest of earthen magicks came with them, permeating the air with their scent. The Witch breathed deep, kneeling over the edge and drinking the fresh power in. His dolls stood at the ready, Scout watching the titan’s slow advance while Lilac began drawing the necessary sigils on the stone.

“This is it,” he smiled, looking up one last time at the full night sky. “Shall we be off, then?”

“Miss can thank us when we’re back at the manor.” The combat doll reached out a hand, taking the witch’s. “It has many words for him later.”

“This one does as well. It also has stories to tell the others.” The servitor doll took his other hand, placing its chalk back in its skirt pocket. “The house dolls will never believe this.”

“No, I don’t think they will.” He began the spell, ethereal words mixing in the air. “Maybe we can just keep this little adventure our secret, yeah?”

“So long as we can visit again in Miss’ dreams.”

In a flash of light, they vanished, leaving only the echos of footsteps behind.






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