A Boy and His Dolls (Short Stories)


“Why do dolls call you miss, Miss?” The figurine doll sat on the edge of the writing desk, perpetually teetering over the edge.

“Because I’m a witch, of course,” the witch replied, his fingers moving gracefully over the keys of a type writer.

“Miss is a feminine title. Don’t others refer to you as Sir?”

“Others who don’t know any better, yes.”

“Does Miss prefer to be referred to that way?”

“It was a bit of an acquired taste, I’ll admit.”

“Why doesn’t Miss refer to himself how he wants, then?”

“I don’t mind it.”

“But Miss could be referred to as anything by his dolls.”

“I could, but Miss is fine.”

“Did Miss always use miss?”

“No, my sisters insisted on that one. My coven was very traditional, like that. But it stuck, after a while.”

The toy cocked its head, looking up at its witch with new interest. “This one has been reading Miss’s computer-“

“-you absolutely should not be doing that-“

“-and it thinks Miss is what the humans refer to as ‘transgender’.”

“I’m not, but thank you for your concern.”

“Denial is a common symptom.”

“Reaction, not symptom.”

“Miss knows what this one means. Miss should see a therapist.”

“I was being very productive before you started questioning my gender, doll.”

“Avoidance is also is another symptom.”

The witch sighed, locking the typewriter in position as he looked at his doll, rubbing a temple with his hand. “Do you know why so many witches use Miss?”

“It doesn’t.”

“We trace our history back to Eve. Witchhood was defined by motherhood, the harvest, and the moon.”

“It knows this.”

“Magic was considered the domain of femininity, and coded as such. Hence the Sisterhood, hence the Matriarchs. Hence the tendency to assume dolls such as yourself are inherently femininely coded.”

“Is this one a girl?”

“Do you want to be?”


“Then you aren’t.” He laughed softly. “See how that works?”

“It doesn’t.”

“Self-determination is what matters, doll. I can call you cute or handsome or any other manner of coded things, but it doesn’t change what you are.”

“This one is incapable of self-determination, though.”

“Ignore that for the moment. Do you see how it applies to me, at least?”

“Confusingly. Is Miss a femininely coded boy?”

“…that’s probably the best answer you’re going get, yes.”

// Writing

“Miss, why do witches wear skirts and dresses?” The figurine doll had somehow found itself atop the witch’s dresser, looking down at him while it manipulated a clothespin to weave lint together.

“I think it’s just something that stuck after a while,” he replied, folding some t-shirts slowly and sliding them away.

“Is there a magical reason for it?”

“None that I’m aware of. I know some witches that wear pants and can cast just as well.”

“Is it mandatory?”

“The Matriarch I trained under would side eye me if I showed up to a meeting in pants but no, I don’t think it’s an actual rule.”

“Does Miss like wearing skirts?”

“Yes, but I feel like you’re setting something up.”

“Don’t human girls usually wear skirts?”

“Yes, and human boys do too.”

“But it’s rarer, yes?”

“In some cultures and times, yes. But that’s hardly applicable to the culture of witches, particularly the witches we’re around, is it?”

“But Miss wears skirts around the house as well.”

“Well, yes, I’m a witch.”

“But if it’s not required, why does Miss choose to?”

“Because it’s comfortable and I like the aesthetic.”

“This one is still convinced that Miss is hiding something.”

“Yes, and I’m convinced the maid dolls have been letting you watch too much TV while I’m gone.”

“It saw a very good cartoon about accepting yourself,” the thing huffed. “It wants Miss to be happy!”

“I appreciate the concern, I really do. But I’m very confident in my identity, don’t worry.”

“Why did Miss modify his body, then?”

The witch stopped folding for a moment, something flashing in his eyes, some distant memory taking over until he blinked, smiling lightly and continuing to fold. “Well, that’s one reason I know for sure, yeah?”

“This one is confused. Did Miss regret that?”

“No, not necessarily.” He shrugged, moving on to a new pile of laundry while stray magic began sorting it out. “I could have reversed it, with a little more pain and magic. I’m comfortable like this; your form doesn’t define your identity, after all.”

“But why would Miss change his body if not to be more accurate to Miss’s wishes?”

“Well, when I was younger, I was told that it was primarily girls who gained magical talent. That’s not true, but Matriarchs recognize it in younger girls more than they do boys. So I was an exception, even in my class. I didn’t know what to make of it, so I changed it.”

“Did Miss want to be a girl?”

“I wanted to be acknowledged for what I could do. It took me a long time to understand that the yearning I felt wasn’t so simple. It also took me a long time to realize that these things aren’t as two-sided as they at first seem.”

“Does Miss think of himself as a boy, then?”

“To an extent. It’s… incomplete. It’s a useful simplification, certainly, especially for individuals who are not nearly as good a listener as my inquisitive doll. It’s not something I fully understand, even now.”

“Was Miss forced to be a girl?”

“No, certainly not. The magicks that altered my body weren’t cooked up overnight, and no one in my coven insisted, much as they might have made comments about it all. No, that discovery was my own to make, and my own to refine further.”

“Miss is always so mysterious. Does he have any other secrets from his past?”

“No more that doll’s getting from me tonight.”


“Aren’t witches supposed to build their own dolls?” The figurine doll walked along the edge of the display cabinet, looking at the much-less-animate figures inside.

“Yeah, I’m just terrible at it,” the witch replied, inspecting one of the figures in particular.

“Wait, does that mean this one was bought too?”

“Yeah, I got you from a garage sale.”

“Did Miss pay good money for it?”

“I think you cost ten dollars. I haggled down from fifteen.”

“This one doesn’t understand currency. Is that a lot?”

“It’s about how much a sandwich costs.”

“Miss loves his sandwiches, so that must be a lot.”

“Yeah, we’ll go with that.” The witch made an awkward gesture to flag a clerk over to open the case, holding out a hand to retrieve his doll. “Back in the bag for now.”

“But it wants to participate!” The thing pouted, delaying long enough for the unusually attentive clerk to arrive before the witch had a chance to stow it away. “Hello! This one’s Miss wants that figurine right there.”

The clerk blinked for a moment, confused by the diminutive thing talking to them, before cautiously removing the figurine from the case and putting it out on the table, looking between the doll and the witch. “Uhm… this one miss?”

“Yeah, that one.” The witch had a pained expressed on his face, clearly not prepared for his doll to be involved in the transaction.

The clerk wrapped the purchase, cocking their head at the doll watching them intently. “Hey, I know that design. Are you animating these?”

“That one was just going on the shelf, actually.”

“But this one wants a sister!” The doll complained, looking up at its witch with a look best described as pitiful. “The dolls that don’t move are so boring!”

“I-can we not have this conversation right now please?”

The clerk continued to watch with a combination of confusion and bemusement, hitting a few keys on the register as the doll continued to pout at its witch. “Comes out to $150, ma’am.”

“Isn’t that more than ten?” The doll looked confused. “Are other dolls more expensive than it?”

“Trick of the math, I’ll explain it later.” The witch fumbled through his wallet, handing a few bills over and picking up his new purchase and the doll in one motion, hurrying out as quickly as he reasonably could without outright running out of the store.

“Why’s Miss so flustered?” The doll inquired from its exterior pouch on the witch’s purse, looking up at him with intrigue. “He’s usually so confident.”

“I don’t like dealing with humans, for one, and for two, you shouldn’t be joining in on those conversations.”

“But the servitor dolls do errands for Miss all the time? Humans know about dolls, don’t they?”

“Humans have very particular expectations of dolls, and witches, and everything else in their lives. They expect dolls to be full-sized maids, not talking limited run figurines.”

“But the clerk seemed nice about it?”

“Because humans also don’t like offending witches. But that goes both ways; cause too much of a stir and we’ll have a witchhunter visiting the manor before long.”

“Miss could defeat any hunter!”

“They don’t kill witches anymore, exciting as a duel might be. They bury us in paperwork and bureaucracy.”

“What’s that mean?”

“That means I don’t report you or the other figurines on my taxes.”

“Is that why Miss had us play Be Very Still when the agent came by last month?”

“Yes and you did great.”

“If this one teaches the new sister how to play that game can Miss animate it too? Please?”

“…I guess. That might be a little hard, though, this one’s personality is probably going be a bit prickly.”

“Oh, that reminds it, what’s ‘tsundere’ mean? The maid dolls said Miss keeps buying figurines called that.”

“kill me now”


“Miss! This one found the photo book!” The figurine doll was dragging a tome along the desk, approaching its witch as he was hunched over the desk, painting a miniature with extreme precision.

He breathed a sigh of relief as he finished his stroke before the doll disturbed his workstation, setting aside his brushes as he looked to what the it had found now. “Oh, yeah, that’s my year book.”

“This one hasn’t seen Miss before he made it!” It flipped the book open, tabbing through the pages until finding the class photo. “Which one is Miss?”

“Uhm, lemme see… over there, in the middle left.”

“Miss looks so different!”

“Well, I was sixteen.”

“Miss had long hair!”

“Yeah, I cut it down after I moved out on my own, a little much to manage if you don’t have anyone else helping.”

“Couldn’t a doll brush Miss’s hair?”

“I suppose. It was hard the first few years after I left the coven, though, didn’t really think about that.”

“Why was it hard?”

“Well, it’s not like witches can just get office jobs. Back in the old days you’d go find a village and set up shop outside of it, sell potions and spells. Now humans have doctors and pharmaceuticals and computers. Less business for witches.”

“But Miss’s spells are so powerful!”

“Magic isn’t something that comes without cost dear doll. Nothing is. Magic just tends to be more upfront about it. Humans are content to take medicines that’ll kill them ten years from now, than a potion that’ll hurt for a week.”

“What does Miss do to be able to buy so many dolls anyways? This one has begun learning personal finance after seeing how shops work.”

“…did you log into my bank account?”

“No, it guessed the password wrong too many times and the bank says it’s locked now.”

“So that’s why I couldn’t buy lunch…” He groaned, pointing over to another workdesk filled with bottles. “I sell enchantments human technology hasn’t figured out yet. I also enchant machines to help prevent them from breaking down.”

“Miss makes machine dolls??”

“No, no, it’s not as involved as making a doll. It’s more like, an animate broom. No real thoughts or such, just a certain pre-determined set of actions.”

“But the maid dolls giggle about having no thoughts?”

“I’m starting to think they’re bad influences for you.”

“They’ve taught it a lot! Right now they’re teaching this one how to find dates for Miss, because he’s too lonely.”

“Okay first of all-“

“Miss spends all of his time in the workroom! He doesn’t even visit the other dolls now!”

“I thought you were going talk about my yearbook?”

“It was a conversation opener, much like what Miss should study if he wants to find a partner.”

He blinked, stumbling for words for a moment. “There’s a lot of sudden things that have opened up here I’m not exactly sure where to start. Are the other dolls gossiping about me?”

“This one is confident that the maid and servitor dolls do nothing but gossip, Miss.”

“Okay, fair. What about the other figurines?”

“Most of them are busy reenacting the stories they’re from. This one is going to school now with some of them!”

“You’d think I’d have noticed that… okay, maybe you have a point, I stay in here a lot. But that doesn’t mean I need to go on a date.”

“Miss should find someone who can complete him! But none of the dolls know who Miss prefers. Boys? Girls? Both? Neither? Dolls?”

“I am not going date my dolls.”

“Some of the new figurines want to date Miss though!”

“How would that even work? Most of you aren’t more than a few inches tall.”

“This one has seen many depictions on the internet-“

“Forget I asked. Before you go spreading anything scandalous around, I like girls, thank you very much.”

“Miss should date another witch then! Miss knows many cute witches from his coven.”

“I thought we had a conversation-no, I’m not dating a witch either. Do you know how hard that is? Witches are constantly competing with each other.”

“Maybe it could be a rivals to lovers story!”

“When witches fight, it usually ends up with one of them suffering some horrible hex, or getting turned into a cat or something. Not interested.”

“Miss could make a cute cat though.”

“I’m not dating a witch.”

“Maybe a cute girl from the city, then?”

“Witch-human relationships are also very fraught. There’s a lot of power imbalance that makes these things very difficult.”

“It’s sure Miss could find girls who think that’s attractive.”

“I’m changing my computer password.”


“Is Miss human?” The figurine doll stood atop a pile of dishes, its witch working alongside a maid doll as the two cleaned up.

“Depends on how you define it, I suppose.” He shrugged, arranging tea cups into a row. “I don’t really consider myself human.”

“Was Miss ever human?”

“I suppose I was once. When I was younger, I played the part of one, at least.”

“Were Miss’s parents human?”

“Nearly as human as you can come.”

“Did Miss not like being human, then?”

“It was a mundane existence; not particularly offensive, but not mine.”

The doll jumped down from its stack as the witch grabbed the plates from under it, looking to the murmuring maid doll. “Is Miss more like a doll, then? Miss has made dolls from humans before, hasn’t he?”

“On occasion.” He whispered a spell at a particularly stubborn stain. “In some ways I am, I guess. My body is more human than yours, of course, but we’re a lot more alike in thinking.”

“Miss has doll thoughts too?”

“For better and for worse, my curious doll, your thoughts came from my own. Your purpose comes from my own desires and eccentricities. To be human means to accept the world as it is, to stagnant and grow old… witches reject that.” He held out a hand, allowing the figurine to scale his arm and sit atop his shoulder as he continued his work. “Witches reject the inevitable, and the dolls we craft are reflections of that. It’s its own kind of purpose, in that regard.”

“This one understands, it thinks.”


“This one found Miss a date!” The figurine doll jumped atop a display shelf with phone in hand, startling the witch as he arranged far-less-chatty figurines into place. “Many dates, in fact!”

The witch sighed, begrudging taking the phone and looking at the gallery of options the doll had prepared for him. “Dare I even ask?”

“The other dolls all agree, Miss must go on a debate. Pick one or we’ll hex your bed.”

“You can’t perform hexes.”

“We’ll find a way!”

He flipped through a few profiles, murmuring under his breath as he did. “No… no… no… oh she looks nice, combat witch though, probably would get into fights about politics… no… a succubus?”

“Miss specified he likes girls: he did not specify about non-human girl-coded entities.”

“I mean, I guess. The cultural differences can be really tricky though, I don’t actually know how demon parenthood works.” He continued to skim through. “Angels too I see… is that a rock?”

“They’re called gems.”

“I didn’t know those were a thing.”

“No one else knew either!”

“Huh. And I have to pick one?”

“Or the dolls will poke you in your sleep.”

“Fine, okay.” He scrolled back through the pictures, before finally stopping back on the succubus. “Says here she just wants someone to talk to. I’ll go on a date with her, maybe learn a thing or two.”

“Good! The dolls here will take care of Miss’s chores while he’s gone.” The figurine doll was utterly ecstatic, quickly running off to inform its compatriots of its success as its Miss was left shaking his head, bewildered by the entire thing.

A few days later, the witch came back through the manor’s door in the early morning, a tired but content look on his face as the figurine doll and the many other dolls of the house greeted him.

“Did Miss get a girlfriend??” The figurine asked excitedly.

“I don’t think so. Maybe? She wants to do this again sometime.”

“How far did Miss get on the first night?”

“We stayed up until three in the morning playing firefight.”

“Miss played video games with his date?”

“Well, we went to a nice little cafe in hell first, got some great coffees, and then we went relic hunting in a pocket dimension. Turns out we both did our theses on the same subject, the late Samjaza era mage wars! It was a great time.”

“Will Miss be going out more now at least?”

“Probably yeah.”

“Good! This one bet a month of its chores to Persephone if Miss got a second date.”

“Of course you did.”


“Miss! This one has been studying politics,” the figurine doll carried with it a textbook at least three times its size, making the witch wonder how it had the strength to not simply topple off the table. “It has questions!” https://twitter.com/humvadev/status/1558212392793808896

“Okay, sure, I guess.” The witch blinked a few times, looking at the textbook. “…Is that my contemporary politics book?”

“Yes, so Miss should know everything in it.”

“I would have failed that class if not for my Matriarch keeping me up all night.”

“Surely Miss has gained worldly experience?”

“I really don’t like participating in these things, I’m never going be on a council or anything.”

“But this one met a doll the other day at a tea party talking about how important it was to be involved in politics! It even gave this one a flier for its campaign.”

“…dolls have political campaigns now?”

“Yes, for the doll council! It was started a few months ago. They advocate for dollsrights.”

“Huh. See, this is what I mean, I’m just not in the loop of these things.”

“How do demon politics work then? Miss has his demon girlfriend now, he must know how that works.”

“We don’t really spend our nights talking about the intricacies of demon lord hierarchies, you know.”

“That’s one of this one’s questions! Why do demons have lords but humans don’t? Demons are free spirited things, why do they have an older form of government?”

“I- I don’t think ‘older’ is the right word for it. I mean I guess it is, they have a very old way of doing things, but that implies a newer way would be better for them. Demon lords don’t work anything like how old human kings did. For one, a lot of them are actually elected.”

“Then why are they a lord?”

“Demons get up to a lot of trouble if left to their own devices. They collectively agreed that the best way to handle this was to place central control in a lord -or lady- until someone challenged them. It’s more like pirate rules, basically.”

“This one doesn’t know what pirate rules are.”

“Uh, well, if they aren’t currently waging a war with another faction, any demon can challenge their lord in combat or a vote or both.”

“See!” The doll flipped the book open, looking for something new. “Miss knows a lot!”

“I mean I know a little but it’s way more complex than that, I don’t want to act like I know a bunch about something I’ve never really studied.”

“Then how do witch politics work? Miss’s Matriarch is a member of a council, isn’t she?”

“Yeah, she’s on one of the advisory committees to the Sisterhood, yeah.”

“What’s the Sisterhood then?”

“It’s, well it’s two things I guess? I’m part of the Sisterhood but then there’s the Sisterhood, which is the governing body of witches everywhere.”

“How many are in it?”

“Gods, who knows. It’s not really a set system, and not every witch recognizes it. There’s life time appointments and elected representatives and witches who just sort of show up and no one tells to go away… it’s not like there’s a constitution or anything.”

“Then how do they have any power?”

“Witches put a lot of emphasis on tradition and drawing connections between their magic and its roots. The Sisterhood maintains that continuity, and so we respect it for that. The rest is just common sense.”

“Common sense?”

“The Sisterhood doesn’t really set witch law or anything, but it does enforce some of the oldest standards, like never killing a human in our fights.”

“Why’s that?”

“If witches started massacring humans in their power struggles, those witch hunters that visit us would quickly stop looking for tax violations and start raining holy fire down on manors.- “-Humans tolerate us so long as we keep to our own worlds; heaven would not hesitate to help them wipe us all out if we gave them reason.”

“Who rules humans, then? Demons, angels, witches, fae, they all have things that rule them all. What about humans?”

“Humans don’t really do well with one group speaking for them all. The secret is the rest of us don’t either, but it’s better than the alternative. Humans are the loudest to fight amongst each other but the quickest to form a bulwark against others.”

“If Miss knows these things, why doesn’t he care about these things more? Couldn’t Miss change things?”

“I can’t change the world and I can’t change how people are, but I can and did change my little corner of it.”

“How’s that?”

“Folks in the town ahead of us like me well enough, and leave you dolls be when you’re out for errands. I may have violated the code a few times to make sure some more difficult human leaders didn’t get anywhere in their careers. But I don’t care for the machine of it all.- “-I’m not going to get involved in governance or sit on councils because that’s not who I am. Would much rather just… change the world right where I am, and let folks who know their part of it better change their parts.”

“This one understands. Can it still attend the doll council meeting?”

“Yeah, go for it, take some pictures too, I want to annoy my coven sisters with it.”


“I’m back!” The witch announced, opening the door of the manor with bags in hand. “Gods, those two weeks really just flew by… hello?”

The house was, for once, eerily quiet; no sound of distant drama or chatting to be heard.

He crept forward, wisps of magic beginning to form in his hands as he felt around the house for any possible intruders. Usually at least a few of his dolls would be present to greet him, especially Button…

“Miss!” As if by thinking of it, the figurine doll hopped onto a shelf. “Miss is back!”

The witch gave a jump and welp, almost blasting the thing before collecting himself in a breath. “…Please don’t spook me like that ever again. What’s going on? Where’s everyone?”

“Oh, here and there, most of them are locked up in the basement, the royalists are upstairs.”

“…The what?”

“This one showed the others Miss’s politics book while he was gone, and Persephone decided it ought to be a queen! But not all the dolls agreed with this.”

“How long ago did this happen?”

“Immediately after Miss left.” It gave a flourish, smiling brightly. “The dolls that stayed loyal to Miss were put in the basement, but this one studied royal crises! It turned coat and hid in Persephone’s court this whole time, for Miss.”

“Mortifying. What’s Persephone been up to, then?”

“Well, none of the maid dolls betrayed Miss, so Persephone’s been attempting to make connections with the human delivery persons. They’ve been unwilling to provide shipments to any of the figurines though.”

“Wait, is that why I got a notification that my shipment was refused?”

“Most likely!”

“That was a limited run pre-order! I had to pay foreign currency fees and everything… okay. I’ll deal with that later. Where are all these dolls hiding out?”

“In Miss’s workshop, with all the paint supplies. They’ve made themselves a full courtroom out of his kits.”

“Have they now?” The witch finally dropped his bags, retrieving one of his conduits from it and a spellbook. “Can’t leave the house for five minutes…”

The witch scaled the stairs with a certain briskness to his step, the figurine doll climbing up the railing to keep up with him. A moment later he threw open the door of his workshop, revealing… …that his many tables had been completely converted to settlements for the figurine dolls; an entire small town had been constructed, with houses, a school, and of course, an impromptu castle/refurbished office sitting in the center of it, bridges sprawled out to connect to it. The many figurine dolls of his collection, animate and inanimate, had been gathered there, turning to see the arrival of their witch with a combination of horror and shock.

“Miss is back!” One of them yelled, waving to him. “Look Miss! We have a city now!”

“I see that.” He cocked his head, blinking as he took it all in. “This is all very impressive, actually. Did just you figurines do this all?”

“Sure did!” Button had managed to jump onto his shoulder, joining him in observing. “It was hard without the maid dolls but we did it!”

“I-okay. Where’s Persephone?” He carefully stepped over a bridge, giving the castle a soft knock. “Oi, your witch is back and I’d like to have a chat.”

A moment later, a doll in a decorated suitjacket stepped out onto one of the patios, looking up at the witch with an annoyed expression. “This is a doll ruled space now Miss! Miss has to go through border control.”

“…this is my house.”

“And now there’s an autonomous constitutional monarchy city-state in it! Miss needs to be more respectful of boundaries.”

“I, don’t think boundaries were meant to mean literal boundary lines in this context.”

“How’d Miss find out so fast anyways?” The self-appointed queen figurine’s gaze turned to the witch’s shoulder, scowling at the doll perched atop it. “Button! Of course you’re a traitor.”

“Yes, it’s a republican! Monarchy is an illegitimate form of government!”

“The dolliament has the majority of the power! This was a reasonable compromise.”

“Then the head of government should be an elected position as well!”

“This ensures greater stability and consensus!”

“It’s a perversion of the dolltorate’s will!”

“Okay, look, invigorating as this is, I’ve been in like, three different dimensional timezones in the last day trying to get back home.” The witch rubbed his brow, muttering some exasperation under his breath. “Okay, what are your demands Persephone?”

“Recognition of the rightful Kingdom of the Workshop, free travel for its citizens, and the extradition of that traitor!”

“Well, you’re not executing Button, I need it for… something. I also need to be able to use my workshop for, well, work.”

“Miss can use the workshop for his activities, but we figurine dolls will no longer be confined to too-small dollhouses and display cases!”

“Okay, valid. Can you set up your micronation in the guest room? I’ll buy some more scene props.”

“Only if Miss helps us move!”

“Of course. Also, I need you to promise me you aren’t going to ostracize or destroy Button. I’m, uh, giving it diplomatic immunity. As my ambassador.”

“Agreeable; that means its citizenship is revoked. Button, you may no longer access the healthcare system.”

“But this one’s appointment!”

“You don’t have internal org… nevermind. I’m going go free the maid dolls, because I’m not hauling all of this stuff by myself.” He turned to head back down the stairs, then stopped and thought for a moment.

“The maids are six times your size, how did you all get them tied up anyways?”

“Oh, that was easy,” Button chirped. “They’re really into bondage and helped us tie them up!”

“…eve preserve me…”


“Miss brought his girlfriend back!” The many dolls of the manor had gathered around the closed door of their Miss’s private chambers, the figurine doll atop a nook in the wall as it gained the attention of its peers. “This one saw her, last night!”

“What did she look like?” One of the maid dolls was looking curiously at the door. “Should we look?”

“What if they’re in the middle of something?” Another of the figurines retorted.

“This one’s sure Miss wouldn’t mind…”

“Miss’ll hex you for it!”

“Miss’ll do no such thing!”

“Hush!” Button nodded to the maid doll. “This one wants to see, unlock the door.”

The maid doll quickly compiled, turning a key and slowly opening the door, only to have it pushed open by the avalanche of variously-sized dolls rushing through it. They all immediately turned to look for their Miss, to find him and his companion bolted up in the bed at the sound of the doll commotion.

“What’s going on now?” The witch mumbled, still half asleep.

“Miss!” The figurine doll jumped atop the pile of its compatriots. “Why does Miss still have his clothes on? Why does Miss’s girlfriend still have her clothes on?”

“Button, why is every doll in the house in my room right now?”

“We were curious what Miss was up to!”

“I was sleeping.”

“Why isn’t Miss having fun??”

“You can just say sex you know.”

“Is this the equivalent of meeting the children?” The dozing succubus stretched for a moment with a yawn, looking at the assembled pile. “I didn’t realize your collection was so… extensive.”

“Well, you know, I see good deals…” The witch looked a bit sheepish, something the figurine doll immediately seized upon.

“Miss didn’t want his girlfriend to meet us!” It accused.

“No, I wanted it to go some other way than… this.”

“Personally I think it’s endearing, really,” the succubus leaned over to inspect the dolls as they slowly squirmed themselves out of the pile. “I’m Ashley, pleased to meet you all.”

“Hi Ashley! This one is Button, that’s Artemis, that’s Hermes, that’s HRM Persephone, that’s…”

The doll continued to rattle off names as the succubus nodded quietly, looking over to the witch with a raised eyebrow. “Have a theme, hmm?”

“Well, they’re all from the same show, actually, it’s a highschool rendition of the Greek pantheon.”

“Do they retain the personalities of the characters they’re modeled after?”

“Usually, yeah. Some of it’s intrinsic, some of it’s what I remember it as. It’s easier to form something you already know than make a whole new psyche from scratch.”

“I have to have you do some experiments with me at some point…” The succubus slipped out of the bed, helping the witch out as she yawned again. “Well, I could go for some breakfast and coffee, and Button can keep introducing me to everyone, hm?”

“Sounds like a plan!” The figurine hopped onto a maid’s shoulder as it pushed itself up, beaming at the two. “Miss’s girlfriend can tell us about how Miss treats her!”

“I do have some extremely intimate details to share about when we went to this theatre in the 6th circle…”


“Has Miss ever regretted using his magic for something?”

The question held in the air longer than the witch thought it would, staring ahead at his journal while his figurine doll sat beside him, kicking its legs off the table.

“I’ve taken jobs I’m not particularly proud of, sure, to make ends meet. But I don’t think I really regret anything,” he finally answered, writing another line. “I do as I’m asked. Witches rarely regret, but their clients often do, if that makes any sense.”

“Does Miss have a lot of upset customers?”

“No, one of the first things you have to learn to be around humans so much is to learn when they want something that they really shouldn’t. When to tell them you can’t help them. Helps to prevent buyer’s remorse.”

“Do humans regret what they ask for often?”

“Sometimes. Humans tend to know themselves well enough, even if they don’t think so. They very rarely know what’s best for others, though, and always think a witch can fulfill their desires for the world.”

“Is that why witches don’t work with human rulers?”

“For the most part. Witches scheme amongst each other, but they know that world domination isn’t beneficial for anyone, certainly not a world dominated by humans. Other witches would stop them quickly enough.”

“Has Miss ever done work for a human ruler?”

“Once, actually. One of those regretful clients, as a matter of fact.” He leaned back in his writing chair, retrieving a freshly rolled cigarette and lighting it with a spark. “He was a prince, of all things.”

“Miss worked for a real prince??”

“They’re a lot less impressive these days than the ones in your books and shows but, yes. His story was a stereotypical one, and I was younger, a fresh witch making his way. It was a lot of money back then to turn away.”

He watched the ceiling for a moment, tracking the wisps of smoke breaking against it, before continuing. “He wanted to be free of an arranged marriage. He was going run away, to another country, go live with a boy he fancied instead. I took it of course, not knowing any better.”

“Doesn’t Miss still help anyone who’s being forced to do something they don’t want?”

“If it were just that, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad.” He gave a faint smile. “The thing is, doll, when you meddle in one person’s life, you meddle in dozens.

“I cast a spell on him that did what he wanted; his parents were delayed in searching for him when he disappeared. His wouldbe fiancee felt her love fade faster than it ordinarily would have. A glamour kept others from readily recognizing him.

“In time, though, he realized that the life he dreamt of, the simple life with his lover, wasn’t nearly as fulfilling as he had hoped. He’d grown too used to the life of privilege he lived, to all the material things he had access to. He wanted it all back.”

“What did Miss do?”

“I told him the truth; I couldn’t just call it all back. He made his decision, and he had to live with it, for the rest of his life.”

“Did he?”

“In a manner of speaking, I suppose he did. He eventually made it back to his parents, but they hardly recognized him.

“His fiancee had long since married another. The life he returned to was one in ruins, and the only thing he could do was try to seek revenge on the awful witch that had so clearly cursed him.”

“Did he attack Miss?”

“He hired a rival to find me and led an assault on my first manor, yeah. Razed it to the ground and very nearly did me in.” The witch laughed. “You know me, I’m not much of a fighter, especially not back then. At one point, he had a gun to my head, and I’d made my peace.”

“So what happened? Did Miss’s magic push him away?”

“No, Lilac did.” As if on cue, the quiet maid doll had appeared in the room, replacing the waste bins and looking around for loose things. “It gutted him, and then his guards, and then it took me and you away from there.”

“This one doesn’t remember that, though? That seems awfully exciting for it to just forget.”

“Some things are better not remembering, Button.” He finished the cigarette, handing it to the maid doll with a knowing smile. “At very least, now you know how we came here, yeah?”

The doll didn’t seem particularly satisfied. “Even after all of that, Miss didn’t regret using his magic?”

“No, I don’t think so.” He gave a slight shrug. “I’ve cast far worse spells than that, I’ve seen my sisters brainwash entire villages. Something like that…

“I don’t regret it, no. I wish I had known not to accept his money, certainly, without being prepared for the consequences. I regret not doing more to protect you and my dolls. But in the end, the regret for the spell was entirely for that prince, not me.”

[…]”Would Miss do it again?”

“With where I am now?” He looked to Lilac, who looked at the figurine doll with the hint of a snaggletooth poking out. “I don’t think he’d make it past the front gate this time.”


“Do you think this place will be here much longer?” Amber took a bite of his meal, some kind of bird on a stick. “With all the renovation, that is.”

“Probably. This place is under protection of the local Lord.” Ashley shrugged.

“Still, I’m sure that applies to plenty of other parts of hell, yeah?” He looked out the window, to the winding streets below and the variety of passerbys making their ways through them. “Plenty of ancient, historic places, demolished and replaced.”

“More things change, more they stay the same. This isn’t the first time hell’s remodeled, won’t be the last, but these little places always manage to stick around in the odd corners.” She looked up from her hash, tilting her head. “What about your place?”

“What about it?”

“You’re not that far from the city, they’re constantly expanding. What’re you going do when it’s on your doorstep?”

“Maybe it’ll make it easier to catch the morning trains.”

“Somehow, I don’t see my beloved potion brewer dealing with the commotion of the city.”

“Well, I guess I just have to move in with my girlfriend, huh?”

“And all your ‘housemates’?” She laughed, tail flicking behind her. “I don’t have enough space for all those display cases.”

[…]”Maybe I’d lend them out to my sisters. Resale some of them. Just imagine some kid picking up Persephone and getting the shock of their life.”

[…]”Amber Ides, you’d do no such thing… hilarious as that’d be.” She held out a hand, waiting for him to take it. “Speaking of, though, you need to get going if you’re going get home in time to help Lilac with the rest of its chores before the meeting.”

“I really need to make some more maids for it…” He sighed, tucking the remainder of his meal away in a pouch and sitting up. “Walk with me to the portal?”

“Of course darling.”


The witch lay in the burning wreckage, shock setting into his body as he looked around. His arms screamed with pain as his magicks stitched them back together, but he couldn’t feel it past the haze that had settled over his mind.

A shift came through the rubble, pieces being pushed aside by an invisible force as an entourage approached. A woman clad in impossibly bright hues of yellow and orange, slippered feet not quite touching the ground as she walked, came into his vision, along with half a dozen guardsmen. Humans, clad in modern armor but holding swords with glowing enchantments etched in them. Witchhunters.

“I think this suits you,” the rival knelt over him, a sickening smile drawn across her face. “Incapacitated, on the ground, my magicks filling your veins. It won’t be long now, will it? It’ll be over even faster, if you’d just command yours leave…”

He wanted to reply, to spit in her face and tell her how he’d have his revenge. But the truth was, he couldn’t do it, even if his jaw wasn’t offset from the attack. He’d never fought another witch before, never really fought a human… he couldn’t do it. He wanted to thrash against the wall of shock keeping him from forcing his body to do his will, to use its magicks to overcome the physical impairments of his injuries, but he wasn’t strong enough. He couldn’t be strong enough.

His head lolled over to the side, looking past the rubble, to another body, crumbled further away. Blood seeping out of it as it lay still, the faintest hint of breath still coming from it. None of them had gone to investigate her… why not? Did they think she wasn’t a threat?

“Really though, Amber, I don’t have all day.” The rival took out a knife, plunging it straight into his chest and through his heart, illiciting a scream and thrash as the witchhunters moved to hold his limbs down. “Say your final prayer, kiss the void for me, and give me your fucking magicks.”

The pain gave him the clarity he so desperately needed. Doing something as precise as this, at a time like this, was risky, but she already had the correct sigils drawn on her…

He screamed an enchantment, words blurring together through blood and pain. The actual pronunciation, the words themselves, were irrelevant; only his intent, only his focus, mattered now. Droplets of raw mana spilled from his wounds, but instead of gravitating to his captor, they began to flow towards the other near-corpse in the room.

The rival watched this with confusion, dipping a finger into the stream and recoiling as the magicks rejected their would-be mistress. Too late, she looked across the room, looking at the body with uncertainty, until she realized what was happening.

The body rose, slowly, magicks slowly working their way up and into fresh wounds, puddles of porcelain forming where they entered. Nails turned to obsidian talons as new life entered its eyes, a cruel smile overcoming it as the witchhunters looked up at it in equal confusion.

The resulting scene was over quick, from the witch’s perspective. Screams, the sound of flesh being rendered, and splashes of blood landing on him, all while his own magicks repelled the knife from his body and began to stitch up the mortal wound in his chest.

When it was done, the newly-birthed doll knelt beside him, laying the corpse of his wouldbe killer beside him and placing her still hand on his chest, mana dripping from it and into his own reservoir. It began the unceremonious work of scavenging the ruins, collecting their most precious items as the sounds of sirens became audible in the far distance. By the time the first ambulances arrived, the scene the paramedics found was a tidy one; bodies lined up next to each other, swords laying atop the chests of the witch hunters, the rival atop a blanket with her hat covering her face. The doll, on its knees with its Miss’ head resting in its lap, a packed bag of luggage next to it, a small figure poking out from it, witnessing the scene before it.

“Amber?” The doll asked quietly, the witch stirring slightly. “It’s going be okay Am… Miss…”


The two young witchlings stood alone in a secluded chamber of the manor’s basement, diligently drawing chalk lines and referencing the open books strewn about in the air around them. From time to time they would reach for a new color, or drip a wax seal on the focal points of the enchantment. The floor was covered in their work, as were the walls, reinforcing sigils glowing in the soft hum of the manor’s natural leylines. It wouldn’t be long, now.

The red haired of them looked to her compatriot, beginning to close the drifting books as she did. “Are your parts done?”

“Yeah, they should be.” The black haired witchling “Checked them three times now.”

“The moon’s almost at its peak, I don’t want to wait another month.”

“It’ll be fine. Let’s check them again, okay?”

The two went back to their work of checking their work once more, the light of the moon beginning to mix with the candlelight as they removed the magical barriers. Soft leylight began to emanate, tracing the chalk in a gradual flow. After an unbearable minute of waiting, the light made contact with its other half, the entirety of the design lit fully. The hardest part was done, now.

“Is… is this it?” The red haired witchling’s voice took on a tone of giddiness. “Are… are we going do this?”

“We’ll have to clean up quickly afterwards, if we don’t want her to find out.”

“Well, she’s going find out after when we go to class, isn’t she?”

“We’ll just tell her it’s a glamour, until we figure out how to tell her for real.”

“I guess I didn’t think we’d actually get this far…”

“Hey, it’ll be okay, yeah? You’ve wanted this for as long as you can remember, haven’t you? Now, we can do it, together.”

“Y-yeah…” The witchling nodded. “Let’s do it.”

The two took their marked spots, holding each others hands, beginning to whisper the spell that would bring the enchantment to life properly. Magicks sparked in the gaps between their fingers, jumping back and forth between them as the spell took form. Radiant moonlight began to thicken in the air, silver streams of mana materializing in the air and pooling itself onto the chalked outlines. Even the leylines of the room began to enter the material world as the spell grew ever louder, lending the force of the invisible rivers of the world to their goal.

The two witchlings smiled at each other as they entered their final verse, eyes alight with the magicks behind them, alive and pushing against the restraint of their bodies. A final breath, and they escaped, filling the air with the smell of ozone and the lights of a newly-formed galaxy. Together, they collapsed to the floor, the candlelight and magical glow alike snuffing out, leaving only the moonlight behind.

Maybe a half hour later, the Matriarch opened the door, another witch following closely behind her, the two of them looking around the room with shock and confusion.

[…]”What in Eve’s name did they do…” She murmured to herself, looking at the two unconscious bodies in the center of the now-burnt out enchantment. It took her only a moment of reading to realize what had happened. “Oh. Hmm.”

[…]”Mother?” The other witch looked at her, then to the enchantments. “These look… centuries out of date, at least. I can barely read it.”

[…]”It’s an admirable enough translation, but you really had to be there to fully comprehend it.” She knelt down by the two, whispering a portal to life and drifting them slowly into their awaiting beds deeper within the manor. “They’re going have an awful headache later.”

“Are you going to reprimand them?”

“For this… no.” She pursed her lips, looking more closely at the enchantments. “They’re certainly going have plenty of explaining to do with their classmates, though.”






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