For a witch, death was an ever-present but distant possibility. Since time immemorial, witches perfected means of saving their souls from the grip of the Celestial Choir, either by tether or pact or some novel technique lost to the ages. A common practice, and the first act of any witch with ambition, was to construct voidtether dolls and keep them safe in some distant part of her manor. In the event of her death, they would awaken to the sound of their Miss in the void, and begin the process of fishing her back. This was a reliable technique, and far less fraught than entrusting one’s soul to the machinations of a demon who may itself be killed or replaced one day.

Of course, as with any defense, countermeasures to this grew in time. Human witchhunters devised means of capturing a witch’s soul, generally in some sort of magically-attuned crystal, for safe imprisonment. Witchhunting orders would then store these in vast, and heavily guarded, chambers stored deep within their order’s keep. Of course, a witch of any significant magical potency could retain her thoughts and will in this trap, and encourage others to spring her from it. Guards of these repositories could only be drawn from the most strong-willed of their order, and even then, escapes were far from unheard of.

This was before considering the fact that a witch’s soul contained the collection of magicks she had accumulated in her lifetime; entire manors worth of soul gems, filled to the brim with lifetimes of magic, were extremely tempting targets for rival witches to claim. Between endless jailbreaks and assaults by mana-hungry witches, witchhunting orders would eventually turn to burying captured witches in distant and unknown regions, or constructing horrifically-dangerous tomb-keeps to entrap any foolish witches seeking to plunder them.

Witches, meanwhile, had their own means of defeating their sister’s propensity to escape the clutches of the final judgement. Transmutation was a technique that came into and fell out of favor a millennia prior; turning a rival into your subservient familiar was a poetic end to combat, but fell out of favor when it became apparent that a witch’s soul was too strong to be contained by an animal’s shell. Many a witch found themselves defeated by their own crafty familiars, who used their human-intellect to discover means of casting spells without opposable thumbs.

As dollcraft advanced, some witches took to forced-conversion of their rivals to loyal dolls, keeping their magical potential and making for far more powerful, and far more loyal, familiars. This was more successful than animal familiars, but a doll’s intellect is something still not fully understood by witchkind. A doll would never purposefully betray its Miss, no matter the imprint of the soul it was derived from, but that didn’t stop accidents from occurring.

In the digital era, the arms race against death has entered new heights. As humans come ever closer to devising non-magical ways of avoiding their own appointments with the Choir, witches and witchhunters have been forced to adapt to the existence of magitek. Dolls formed out of synthetics, capable of traveling the void autonomously, witches who’ve imbued their magicks into distributed server chains and can reconstitute their soul automatically in the event of corporal dissolution. Witchhunters who now communicate through private forums instead of congregating in keeps of old, storing trapped witch essence on burnt disks and magnetic tape, hiding them in plain sight in vintage stores and stuffy attics.

At least until found, as they always are.






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