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The Dollmaster's Key

Terota

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a part of The Dollmaster's Key, by Cienpher.

Terota - A simple village in the north, with no firm political standing or economic benefits.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over Terota, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

260 readers have been here.

Setting

A simple town in the north, or perhaps more accurately, a village, where our story starts. With no firm political standing or economic benefits, this village called Terota acts as a rest stop or cross roads of sorts for several major city-states. All of use that can be found here is a small inn for the weary, a diner for the starved, a general shop for the wanderers... and a now abandoned key-keeper shop.
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Terota

Terota - A simple village in the north, with no firm political standing or economic benefits.

Minimap

Terota is a part of The World.

5 Characters Here

Dove Oneira [8] "Time rules flesh, and that causes impetuosity, short-sidedness, and greed. Be still, and know good."
Orchid Ross [6] "You say my words are hard and mean but I say they're poetic justice"
Viyo Marie [2] I have no use for such material things.. Why? Because I have knowledge that I treasure more.
Rey Sargs [1] Old Man Leo would've wanted me to continue.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Raven Sinclair Character Portrait: Rey Sargs Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Devon Anderson - Von Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra Character Portrait: Viyo Marie Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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Day 0, Hour 0, Minute 23


Perhaps it was simply the evening approached, but the charming buildings of Terota that day seemed... just a little sad. There was something lingering in the air, something unsettling, and it made all the citizens of the small town ill at ease. Within this town, a crossroads for several major settlements, was the beginning of a strange journey for several stranger individuals.

This is where our story begins.

Of different cities, different lives, the characters of this tale gathered for one reason alone - to continue to live. However, it was obvious at first glance that this would not be fulfilled. It had always been a quaint little thing, as most key-keeper shops are. However, that day, it was different. The dolls gathered could barely recognize the tired, dilapidated building. The windows, once inviting, had been boarded shut, so hastily that the nails hung ajar. The door had been locked at first, but one reckless individual had broken it down.

The inside was worse. Far worse.

There was scarcely a centimeter that remained untouched - the ground was littered with debris and the walls scorched and torn. With every step, glass or ash was crushed into the floorboards underfoot. The scraps of the paper once draped on the walls were scattered, burned, and destroyed, the printed roses almost wilted in a literal sense. The skin peeled back, the building now stood, a mere wooden skeleton of its former, kinder self.

The brittle beams struggled against the pull of the earth, and on the far side of the room, a table lay crippled by the bared walls. Its legs were snapped, its surface smeared with dark powder. However, despite the wreckage strewn about, it was obvious that once upon a time, this was indeed the shop of a keykeeper. Both sides of the room were lined by the small locked drawers that had contained the beautiful keys of dolls... but they were smashed open, displaying their hollow interior for all to see.

The tiny cats that adorned the drawer-tops lay shattered on the floor. The vase of flowers once beside it had met the same end. The water seeped along the cracks of the floorboards, drowning the remnants of fragrant blooms along with a slip of paper, half-dyed red.

Further papers, destroyed to the point of being unreadable, were crammed into the flickering hearth to the left. A wooden chair, legs licked by the flames, lay beside a pair of broken glasses - its silver wire frame was twisted beyond repair. However, rather than the hearth, the remains of a bonfire lined the pit of a gaping hole in the center of the room. Inside it was an inch of cinder along with the remnants of a half-eaten meal.

Other than the crackling of the fire, the house was quiet... unnaturally so. However, even stranger still were two objects mysteriously intact. The first, tacked to the door leading into the keykeeper's private quarters, was a singed fold of paper. Although the ink was blurred, two significant clues remained:

'Have patience - the keys unlock the gates to immortality'

... and...

'Eternal is the Master Key'...

The other object, seeming misplaced amongst the ruins, was a strange silver amulet. Engraved into the disc was what resembled a serpent devouring its own tail. Hanging from a nail upon the wall, it seemed almost deliberately placed.

So normal it seemed from the outside... and humans rarely frequented the shop meant for dolls. The people of Terota might not have known if it weren't for the dolls that fateful day.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dove Oneira
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While the keywinder's shop gaped in horrid, ashen disrepair, a small child named Dove stepped from a Brougham, bagless and with no chaperone. She did not need one, of course, for she was far older than her cherubic looks may lead one to believe, and as jointed Doll, she needed no thing and no one to survive... save someone willing to wind her key.

Tapping softly on the cobbled walkway into the town proper, well-worn wooden chopines gave the brown-skinned doll a fuller height than her diminutive frame lent otherwise. Modestly beaded and slipper-style, they protected delicate, hose-encased feet. Brilliant eyes, glimmering rainbows in and of themselves, peered out from drowsy lids, taking in the familiar city with an austere gaze. Truly, Dove cut a remarkable figure; not because she was tall, nor was she excessively bejeweled, whimsical or delicate. No, if anyone took particular notice of her, it was because she was so small, and yet she moved with an unwavering purpose. Clad in boy's cathedral garb, the fleece-crowned Doll moved through the winding streets, inexhaustible as she sought the small, cozy shop towards the center of town. There were a great many blocks to go.

Of course, there was no hardness to her step as she went, for her joints did not allow for such. Rather, she moved as if God himself were up in the clouds, pulling her strings with inherent grace. She was but a toy in a puppetshow, and the script was already planned.

Sectioned digits clasped behind her back above the split in her coattails, the little Lamb came steadily closer to her destination, an adorable curl to the corners of her pouty apricot lips. People. Doll and Human alike. They infatuated her. Some smiled at her, enamored with her 'adorable' looks, and she returned the gesture. With her expression made unassuming and guileless by the droop of her snowy lashes and her innocent face, she watched them as they moved about. Some so stern and upset over some issue that they barely noticed where they were going. Such haste. The vexation would be forgotten in a week, and yet they were neglectful enough to bump into someone. Lo, how the discontent is spread. Ah, there, a Doll that has purposefully modified his face as to appear viscerally scarred, seeking the ruggedness one assumes of a human with the same affliction. Bless him.

Dove did not scoff. Nor, in her thoughts, did she judge. At length, she rounded the corner and ended up on the gently sloping street that led to the keykeeper. There was no need to check her watch, she was quite sure that she was well on time, as always, and as always things had gone according to plan. She rather enjoyed being punctual, and really, the only reason she was here earlier than she absolutely needed to be was because it was terribly important to her that she should have time set aside to help those in need, should they be placed in her path.

Tok, tok, tok.

Her chopines clopped hollowly, her smoky curls bounced upon velvet-clad shoulders. Would that she was able to smell the remains of smoke; she would have already known fear. It was not until her vitrail eyes settled upon the blackness at the end of the street that the strange, unfamiliar emotion known as terror would flash within her chest. For a moment, her mind was slow, taking its time in understanding what it saw, and nearly refusing the answer. For once, her eyes were wide open.

...Worn wooden shoes crunched over gritty, charred wood as she pushed past the jarred, open door, and a sound cracked in the Doll's throat. Her angelic mouth fell open. 'This... this simply cannot be.' She thought. Her mind felt like a void as she stepped further inside, filling itself with twisted images of what had been and what now was; everything broken, charred, desecrated. With a morbid slowness, Dove felt herself drawn further within, seeking an answer, a reason, a name for what had happened. She paused at the black maw of an old fire in the floor and looked into the hearth at the crumbled remnants of paper. Letters? Records? Glinting dully in the sooty space, her vision moved left with a near-silent grind from her neck, and her lagging body followed. The paper pinned to the wall was the most whole, and the most clean, and it drew her focus; a focus only diverted by a splash of red. No, it was not the roses now singed in the wallpaper, or the bruised flowers that lay in their water on the sodden floorboards. Instead, it was a bit of paper. Hesitant, for some part of her always avoided stain, Dove reached out, plucking the thing up with jointed fingers and looking it over.

No matter the undesirability of the situation, she did not frown and her brows did not knit. No. There was time. Reminding herself of the virtue of always thinking ahead, the Doll, folded up the scarlet paper in her tiny digits and moved to the cryptic message, reading the blurred scrawl well enough, even at a distance.

Surely, thought the lamb, this must be a test.

In the eerie stillness, she felt something against her chest. It was her pendant.

Tik. Tik. Tik.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira
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While a fine and decorated carriage paraded singly through the winding streets of the city, no doubt drawn by fine and decorated horses, a doll child stood in the desecrated memory of the keykeeper's shop. For a time, it had stood beneath the strange memo as if in a trance. After all, there was nowhere to be but here, and that appointment was obviously delayed. Nothing spurred her from that spot while she thought and pondered this situation, for her curvy and slightly bowed legs would not tire, and neither would her back. Internally, she was in a space of pensive puzzlement. After all, there were many options for an explanation as to what had happened, and yet none of them seemed to make sense. Luckily, confusion was not quite so discombobulating to most dolls, and Dove was no exception. In fact, she was a fine example.

Slow, light steps brought the child back across the sodden, ashen floor, chopines crushing and grinding bits of charred wood beneath the solid soles. It was the toppled furniture that drew her attention now, the table with broken legs and a top covered in black powder. With a neat, perfunctory manner, Dove tucked the folded bit of reddened paper into her velvet coat and surveyed the faint staining on her little fingers. Were she but porcelain, that never would have happened. But chamois took a bit more work to keep clean. Another smooth, eerily slow reach had her reaching into a different pocket and seeking a small kerchief, but she paused before buffing her hand clean. The powder. She bent sideways with a quiet twang from an internal wire, and dragged two ruddy fingertips through the stuff, bringing them under her full-spectrum gaze for inspection. There was something familiar about it, and yet it defied naming in her mind. With a thoughtful frown, she cleaned her hand, rubbing the thin, soft hide clean, and tucked the stained part of kerchief into itself before putting it away. Were it the way of Dolls, she would have sighed as she clasped her small hands behind her back, resting them above the split of her coattails. She waited patiently for the rumbling of the conveyance to cease and wondered, shortly, who may be entering.

It was in this still position, with her back turned and her head of grey curls facing the door, that Raine would find the lamb. It did not move at the sound of her accusatory voice, it did not turn to eye her resplendent dress and immaculate porcelain. Away from the other Doll's golden gaze, Dove just smiled while she went on in clear frustration. What a haughty thing, and so impatient. Though the raven-haired figure's voice was stilted, so too was Dove's slowed, and so she did not truly have time to interject for any of the answers demanded of her, given her penchant for thinking before speaking.

Only when Raine moved quickly and stiffly to the expansive chest-of-drawers that kept the many keys that belonged to the numerous Dolls of the land did Dove's head turn; further to the right than a human's ever could, and with a low, quiet hiss of the socket. Those resplendent eyes were owl-like and hooded, and rest upon the opened drawer Raine stared into, aghast. Anger was tossed at the child doll, but it did not respond immediately, save the lifting of a shushing hand. The palm faced her, the fingers curled, though the index and middle raised higher than the others, as if reminding her of divine providence. Dove's eyes glided in her still, cherubic face, moving quickly over the pristine Doll before it with little attention paid to te ruffles of that fine dress, or the beauty in the sculpted parts. She was not concerned in the least. Her lovely, upturned purse of a mouth curled faintly at the corners, as she was made, and there was little drastic enough to wipe the smile from it. In fact, it widened ever so as she felt a twinge of pity for this pretty thing, and she spoke. "It is not." Her voice was lower than one would expect from a child, doll or human, and had a feathery huskiness to it. Considering her 'age' and appearance, it did not help one decide whether the curly-headed doll was male or female in intention.

Turning her diminutive body in direction of her face, Dove reached out and pointed to the far wall upon which hung an ouroboros and a note. "Look there." Her arm stayed stiffly raised, and one corner of her mouth tugged in a gentle, chiding smile. "Mind your dress, love." Her voice was faint in this empty stillness, hanging strangely in the air with its unaffected tone. With that velvet sleeved arm still raised, the little one looked down at her rosary, and it was only when she decided to reach for it that her hand was lowered. She cradled the clock in her palm, and the beads rattled quietly. With her eyes set fondly on the antique locket, Dove raised her brows piteously in concern.

"I hope you have some time, early one." -The term here related to Raine obviously being jointed, and there for senior to the jointless, whom she called 'new ones'.

"...not quite sure what has happened." With that, the genderless Doll raised 'her' face to Raine, that peaceful smile indelible.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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The city of Terota watched in awe as a doll-like figure roamed the streets. Surely, it has been a long while since she stepped foot into these lands that was dwelt by living or to her liking the humans. She fears these creatures and towards her they bring forth many unpleasant memories although their faces vary most of them have the wicked glances upon their faces especially those of this generation. Her worn-coal colored boots made contact with the walkway. Orchid's face held a serious expression, she was not here to yet ponder and play.


As she walked more passing a few jointed dolls of herself and a couple joint-less dolls, who snickered at her. She shrug, obviously they thought they were better and prettier than the older and more wiser jointed dolls. Orchids pushed her blonde hair back and kept walking as the sun shined over her head. After taking a carriage over to this town she had decided to walk to lessen traffic and annoying people, she was wearing a rather long dress filled with numerous ruffles and beads that aline on the chest area, the fabric was made out of cotton and was patterned with flowers of different colors and sizes. Her blonde hair was left free dangling on her shoulder, a thick hair band resembled the pattern of her dress and bestowed on it was a small fragile flower.

She merely reached her destination when the smell of smoke was suddenly noticeable, her nostrils filled with that familiar scent as she walked into the used to be warm and inviting place but now a destroyed palace of burnings. As her eyes scanned the small store she met eyes with two other jointed dolls, she was puzzled. What had happened here? Better question where was the key-keeper.. time was running out you know. She bit her lower lip before moving closer to the strangers. " Hello." She stated her voice soft but commanding. There was two of them one rather childish looking much younger than herself who was merely 14, this one had grey-curls and looked rather stunning and devious. Jealously uprised She obtained the hair of an animal, not straight but not yet curly a fragment which the hair dresser calls as wavy. The other looking 15 years of age had dark long brown hair an angry face pasted upon her head. She decided there must be a conflict brewing. A breeze blew in and her dress floated to once side and so did her rather unpleasant hair. Orchid stared at the jointed dolls and nibbled on her lower lip, something she did when she was rather upset or nervous.


"Do any of you know where the key-keeper went or why this store is in ruins?"she asked her voice like butter on toast.

They ignored her she tapped her foot and crossed her hands, obiviously they had heard her...

(Sorry very this post is bad indeed, I have writers block)

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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#, as written by xKyrie
Cassandra


Showing off a tall and imposing figure as she stepped out of the carriage, Cassandra spared no heed of the mixed questioning and awed looks darted at her way. Donned in a short scarlet-colored dress and a pair of butterfly-decorated, high-heeled black pumps, the amethyst-haired girl turned to the woman inside the carriage.

"I thank you for your company, Madame Lilian", she spoke impishly, eyeing the said woman from under her lashes. "You are truly a wonderful blessing my lady. I will forever will be in your debt." Her voice sultry and with an indulging smile in her face, she winked at Lilian Gaborne of Hastings. The portly woman can't help but redden slightly at the praise and coyly covered her face with the fan in her hands, just giggling in the process.

Cassandra then settled into a customary curtsy, holding the littlest trail of her dress into the side. "I will be taking my leave now. Please always take care Madame." She accompanied her words by placing her hand on a cheek of the golden-haired woman. She softly caressed her before murmuring, "I hope we meet sometime in the future." Staring at her directly, she smiled again before dropping her hand to her side and stepping away to leave. The said woman can't do anything but stare at her in muted shock, the enchantment and fascination is obviously etched in her face.

Cassandra took out her parasol and opened it with ease. Trudging in a steady pace towards the only key-keeper's shop in Terota, she walked ahead with purpose. It had been a long while since she last visited this place. Pretty much a quite long while actually.

Since she had possessed two keys instead of the usual number of one as what is normal for each doll, she did not see the need of coming back here. She took a key with her and left the other one with the key-keeper. Ever since then, she was able to live by with having just the silver key with her. Having another key gave her the privilege that those other dolls doesn't have. Though it might grow tiresome for a while, about needing to be winded after every two days, still she's happy with her situation. She definitely gets used into not settling into that rhythmic schedule of visiting this shop, miles away from her home, in Belerise. In fact, it might have been more than five years since she last stepped in Terota.

If it wasn't for her urgent current need, she would never have come back. Cassandra of the Everett House would have not been caught dead, or as dead as she could be, here if it wasn't because she truly needed to get her key from the shopkeeper.

Smirking inwardly at another gaping face that she had passed by, she then turned round the corner and found herself in front of the familiar shop.

...

..

Or what should have been the case to Cassandra. Snapping her neck to see the surrounding establishments near this barely recognizable dilapidated building, she reflexively put a hand over her mouth. Noting the same shops and houses nearby, she is quite certain that she wasn't wrong when she walked towards this place. If her memory served her right, in this pitiful looking shabby shack is where the very same modestly designed key-keeper's shop should have stood. She shook her head and slightly lowered the skirt of her dress that had hiked up past her thighs from when she had walked before. She closed her parasol and lightly arranged the hat from its position in her head.

Stepping inside, she eyed the door hazardously left on the floor and cringed as she noted the dirt and accumulating dirt inside. She held a gloved hand in front of her chest, the other holding tightly into her parasol and purse. 'What had happened here?' She thought in confusion as she discovered how far destroyed the place had been as she entered inside. It was no doubt the same old key-keeper's shop that she left her key with, years prior, she concluded staring at the broken cabinets on the side.

"Do any of you know where the key-keeper went or why this store is in ruins?" Was the first thing she had heard, seeing a golden-haired jointed doll standing at the side.

Her nose crinkled, showing her simple distaste as she saw the two other jointed dolls. Honestly of all the strange things that could happen to her, this would have topped it all. Seeing the store which should have held the only literal key for her future- in shambles and being surrounded with a disturbing number of haughty looking jointed dolls in one room together with her does not absolutely bode her well.

She then planned and decided that it would be better if she just quietly observe them for the meantime. She may need to use one of them, if things come to worst. She may have to charm these dolls to encourage them to follow what she wanted them to do and tell her later on. Everything was still very confusing for the jointless doll. Knowing that she's not the first one to discover what had happened, she was forced to rely on them for information.

"I'd like to know that too", she spoke after the statement, the curiosity getting ahead of what she initially intended to, and that was supposedly to keep quiet for a while. She turned calculating eyes towards the other two doll, her face emotionless as usual, and inspected them from head to toe. One of these three dolls may or may not be her only way to solve what happened here.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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Day 0, Hour 0, Minute 51


The paper was still wet, and hung limply as though lacking a spine. The highly diluted red solution still dripped ever so slowly, and the pool of water it had been resting on was stained a similar shade of red. If one looked closely at the damp fibers, there was still the faintest shadow of a past image that had been written on its surface, with the majority of the ink having been stolen away by the liquid. The most visible word was ‘agen’ in highly elaborate script, mere centimeters from the upper edge. Touching the limit of the remaining material was a large eclipse, encircling the word as well as a little of its surrounding area. A gently curving line led the from that shape to an almost perfect square, although slightly taller than wide, which was marked ‘Tero’. A cautionary ‘???’ marked the rest of the paper in a larger size, along with a multitude of illegible scratches.

There was a rip on the bottom of the paper, the jagged edges looking almost like bitten by some large beast. The fibers were soft there, and almost fragile. While the backside was also stained crimson, there was a little more to be seen there. On the top of the sheet, the word ‘Sage’ was written, before a grid of perfectly straight vertical and horizontal lines ran from side to side. There were words inscribed on each of these lines, but they were indecipherable from the mess. In the center, there was a break in the pattern, with a square taking up exactly the width and length of six of those lines. In this square, there was a barely legible word. Was it ‘Varel’ or ‘Novel’? There was nothing else of interest on the sheet, although an upwards pointed arrow neatly highlighted a capital N.

The substance that covered the desk was a dark grey on closer inspection, not the black that it had seemed before. It brought with it the faintest smell of lead, and left a streak of a lighter, but still shining silver to everything that it touched. This powder was hard to the touch, and a closer glance would reveal that it was made of pieces of varying sizes.




Raine Alba


The insolent child of a doll immediately pointed to a further wall where a note and strange object hung. While Raine had no intention of following her orders, the objects piqued her attention, and with stiff, puppet-like steps, she stepped daintily through the rubble. A shard of glass scratched over her porcelain skin leaving a, she was sure of it, visible mark. She sucked in the air from her teeth more out of irritation than the slight pain that came with that. The child continued to speak, with a soft, almost floaty voice. “I hope you have some time, early one.

Whilst Raine usually disliked those dolls who had the belief that by calling her old, they would actually escape her grasp unscathed by humiliated - this doll had much more polite language. Although, she couldn’t help but feel as though the child was somewhat belittling herself, Raine felt the lack of energy getting to her somewhat. Perhaps she shouldn’t have ended up deciding to cut her winding so close, but there was no choice. Her carriage had been getting repaired until this day. And but of course, she would not be seen in anything barring perfection.

Before she realized there was another arrival, there was a voice that seemed smooth like soap. “Do any of you know where the key-keeper went or why this store is in ruins?” came the almost-innocent question. A slight pause while Raine deliberated whether to put the female back in her proper place or to finish pushing onwards to the symbol, she continued onwards. Her steps coming on with a soft pat every time her slippers touched the filthy floor.

I’d like to know that too,” came yet another voice. Raine sighed, before stopping on her slow and almost tedious progress to the Ouroboros. It seemed as though there was a need to explain things - even though she personally had no idea as to the truth, even her guess would be more correct than the deductions of that child. From the sight of her, she was probably slightly younger, a younger sibling that was created by the Dollmaster.

Raine turned around, using her momentum to spin towards the new arrivals. While one was more tastefully dressed with blond hair, the other with the parasol was wearing quite revealing clothes. The one with the better apparel had curling blond hair and although pretty in her own right, Raine outshone her like a sun did the stars. The one without the joints had strangely colored hair - and was taller than herself. She couldn’t say that she liked the feeling of having to crane up her neck, but it just went to show her garish appearance. It just went as evidence that the newer dolls seemed to lack both taste and decency. The first new arrival were also much newer from the sight of her, not a newer sibling per se. The distance between their respective models was similar to that between generations.

With a scornful cough, Raine cleared her throat, as though daring others to interrupt her already slower speech. That in mind, she decided that even if one of the other dolls interjected, she would merely pitch her voice higher and speak above them. Their opinions did not have to be heard, after all. “Are you but spoiled brats?” she stated, with a hidden thorn in her voice, at the questions the new arrivals had thrown her way. “If I had to answer all of your questions, we would be here for the rest of my eternity. If you’ve realized that you’re clueless and useless in such a situation, would you please keep your little opinions to yourself? I’m sure that your imaginary friends would find great solace in knowing that there was someone as stupid as them. That is if you even have minds to use. Perhaps the Dollmaster forgot because he was petrified by the idea that you would become the cretins of society.

“Wait. I forgot. You already are.

“Now if you’ll do me a favor, you’ll listen to your superiors and obvious betters. As soon as I have finished looking at everything of interest, I am going to find that coward of a key keeper and take back my belongings. Whether or not you do too, I don’t see why I would care.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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In dealing with humans over the past many decades, Dove had seen for herself that humans seemed to absorb the emotions of others like an illness. One blustering, angry soul could inspire a whole room of them to anger; one giggling fool could spread his smile through a crowded taproom. Dove was often thankful that Dolls did not behave just this way, however, as more porcelain bodies entered the blackened shop, the child Doll had some inkling of the panic being swapped around. Thankfully, she could refuse to take part.

The watch face in her hand ticked steadily within fetchingly tarnished silver. The hands, thin black twists of delicate metal, jerked with a clean neatness that always gave the little lamb pleasure as she watched them. Upon the round face the hours of the day were inscribed. It had only been an hour and twenty-six minutes since her arrival in Terota, and already things were going so utterly awry. Ah, well. At the bottom of the face lay a semi-circular cutaway, beneath which turned a disk with a bright day and starry night painted upon it. Of course, it being late morning, only the blue sky and gilt sun were visible. There was a quiet click as the watch closed like a clamshell in her palm.

With the air of a sleepy grandmother watching a child play before a warming hearth, Dove gazed upon Raine as she moved towards the apocryphal note and symbol. Her snowy lashes blinked with a soft click of her lids as she watched a shattered piece of spun glass carve across the other Doll's pale, flawless arm. She supposed she'd be alright. Porcelain of that making was rather resilient. As the questions mounted, that curly head turned towards the door. For a moment, Dove let the voices bounce off of her ears as if she had not heard them, taking time instead to glance over the fearful creatures that had entered. Immediately she saw Jaina as sad and lost, for clearly she had little respect for the perfection it was to be a Doll if she dressed so scandalously. Truly it was always a sorry sight to come upon a Doll that tried so hard to emulate the licentious flaws of a human. Perhaps she could not help it.. perhaps these Jointless dolls felt urged to do so, in looking so much like them. It would be finer, of course, to use the nearness in appearance to make an example out of oneself; to be better, purer, more lovely in every way. But Dove just smiled softly, and snapped her eyes a degree to the left, appreciating the softer look of the plaintive blonde.

“Do any of you know where the key-keeper went or why this store is in ruins?”

Dove's voice fell from her, as velvety as her coat, and twice as dry. It was the neuter voice of a child, with a strange timbre to it. Perhaps the depth just came with age, for after all, this Jointed doll was very old, and human rules did not apply. "If I knew, dear, I would not be here."

But soon after, Raine returned to the center of the room as if it was her place, and Dove did not interrupt. She also did not appear to pay full attention, for while the raven-haired Doll spoke, she gratingly released her locket, which rattled as it settled to her belly, clacking once against one of the neat jet buttons on her well-tailored habit. Jointed fingers crawled into that pocket, and withdrew the damp bit of soft, fibrous paper, and she eyed it once again. There was plenty of time to think while this bitter little angel in a white dress established herself over the other two. There was an acidic ring to that slow and otherwise charming voice that made Dove smile in the strangest way. Considering that the doll of questionable morals and the one with the floral dress did not seem quite capable of making decisions for themselves very well, the lamb only bowed mildly to them in a curt obeisance before turning to Raine at the end of her little tirade and stepping a bit closer on her curvy little legs, her chopines tapping hollowly on the marred floor.

In her hand she held the scarlet fragment, and her upturned face was naturally sweet and harmless. For Raine's golden eyes, Dove had turned it so the "Look here, sweetling- ah, do not touch it, for your dress and skin are so fine- ...Don't you think, perhaps, Sagen may be of some interest?" She did not further explain that this appeared to be some sort of map; whether of a physical location or a causal flow, she was not sure. Furthermore, she much preferred silence, and was used to speaking mostly when asked. Where she more loquacious, she may have pointed out the arrow and what appeared to be the washed-out, truncated name of this Town, but the taller doll seemed smart enough, or at least should be, if she found it her place to be so cruel.

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Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Dove Oneira Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra Character Portrait: Viyo Marie Character Portrait: Orchid Ross
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Day 0, Hour 1, Minute 02

Raine Alba


Raine took a brief glance around the building for one final time. Overcome with shock from the pigsty inside and her missing key, she had previously not been able to look around herself. There was really nothing of interest beyond those two pieces of paper that the genderless child had already shown her - but there was no way that Raine would idly follow someone else’s opinion. She was going to have to take a look herself. Paying no real attention to the ground, she walked towards the chair that lay on its side. Peering at the ruined brown wood carefully, she ran one hand against it - although she could literally feel nothing. One more fearless step later, she let out her breath with a harsh sound as her flawless feet stepped on something hard and pointy. The black-haired doll carefully stepped backwards before picking up a twisted silver glasses frame.

A face flashed in front of her face - that of the keykeeper himself. Watery brown eyes obscured by glasses along with cropped dark hair. His features were the same as any other human, and at least to Raine, there was no way that one would be able to recognize him in a crowd. He was unremarkable in every way… But that wasn’t important. At the very least, she would recognize her key anywhere. The jointed doll twisted the glasses between her hands before tossing it into the fire without sparing it a backwards glance.

It was then that she was distracted by her mindless meandering through the area by a sound. So, someone was speaking, were they? The … jointless one. She looked extremely demure, which, while pleasing Raine greatly, seemed to be at odds with her slightly revealing clothing. Still, it seemed as though the jointless one realized exactly the gap between the two beings. “I’m sorry if I might sound foolish…” she spoke in a similarly timid voice, while Raine’s glass eyes flashed with amusement. Watching those inferior to her making fools out of their foolish selves was ever so funny. “but, h-how do you plan on traveling to Sagen? I have never been to that … place and I heard that it’s a town that also serves as a port. What if there were pirates? Or drunkards?

Listening to the idiot insult her precious home had Raine momentarily clenching her fists. But she quickly relaxed. Such a human display of emotion was beneath her, being a doll and all, so instead she faced the jointless doll with a patronizing smile. “Now, now, you. I don’t recall inviting you in any way. I wouldn’t want your jointless self to contaminate my belongings, you see. It’s nothing personal - just a complaint about how completely marred you are. Your imperfect might mar myself, jointless.” But maybe she would need a porter. Raine was ever so conscious of the ticking clock inside herself as she slowly unravelled. She only had two days left to chase down that cowardly keykeeper, and well - having some extra hands would be helpful.

“Don’t speak of Sagen that way,” she admonished the younger being. “It’s absolutely safe. I had thought that was common sense even amongst those who knew nothing, such as yourself.” She coughed gently for emphasis before continuing. Once again, Raine was not going to stop talking even if anyone dared interrupt. Her voice was loud enough to carry even should someone speak. “The more … unsavory members you have mentioned stick to their own districts - there is nothing to fear. If you’re going to come as well, you may as well walk there; it’ll take you perhaps two days if you have the willpower to continue. That is, unless you have something to offer me?...Can you carry heavy loads? Wash clothing? Do you have a way to pay for your passage? I don’t usually take on extra weight, but I’ll make you an exception - coin will do if you can’t do anything else.”

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Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra
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Raine Alba


Raine's lips curled up in a taunting smile as she watched the lesser doll weakly continue onwards. Oh, it was such pleasure to watch someone clearly inferior achieve their perfect state of subordination. "Coins," the younger jointless uttered, with a truly useless look on her face. She bit back a laugh. "I do not know any form of labor..." she continued. Well, that explained the blank and disappointed look of this being. The doll appeared to be meek and spineless - the true personality of one of the newer generation. At least one of them understood their proper position in society, underneath the foot of those better than them. "[b]T-this is all that I have. Will this be enough? I don't know if this is going to be enough, but I truly hoped it would. I need to find the key-keeper, and I would be honored if you'd let me come." After lifting up a small bag, presumably containing coins, she gave a smile...

The perfect kind of smile for such a jointless.

"I-won't get in your way! You won't even feel I'm there.. and this might sound that I'm begging so much but if going into Sagen will stand a better chance to meet the key-keeper then I'll do all I can to get there." Raine almost found it strange that a doll of the like would lack the pride that others of the deathless kind possessed, but threw away that notion into the furthest recesses of her brain. It was obvious that due to her stunning beauty, the younger doll had no choice but to admit to her inferiority. "I am fervently wishing that you'd allow me."

The other doll lifted the brown bag in her hand towards Raine, and she lifted one absolutely delicate hand to take it. Looking inside, she paused momentarily. There was no way that such a doll would end up with such a sizable sum of money. The golden-eyed doll was expecting a small handful of coins at the most, but this... This was something completely surprising. Where did she get this money in the first place? "Oh! You can address me as Cassandra by the way. I've just noticed how impolite I was, talking to you without even introducing myself. Please forgive me for my insolence." This speech did not make it into the slower receptors of Raine's senses - or even if they had been heard, the jointed doll would have ignored it.

“Oh! You can address me as Cassandra by the way. I’ve just noticed how impolite I was, talking to you without even introducing myself. Please forgive me for my insolence.” She curtsied towards them, bowing low as she held her short dress up with her free hand.

It must have been stolen.

Someone who dressed like that would have no other way of obtaining this money. Plus, she had admitted herself that she did not have any talents whatsoever. There was no way that Raine would soil her hands with these coins, given their probable origin. They had probably come from the lowest of the lowest - humans that spent their entire living time in these places that served alcohol in their everlasting quest to not need sleep. Even the thought of that almost made Raine's porcelain body crawl with disgust.

With a frown, Raine dropped the coins on the ground, before mustering up the coldest tone she could. "So, doll, where did you get this money? I am honor-bound to report you to any and all authorities and persons whom you might have wronged. Tell me, and tell me the truth. This money was not earned by any proper practice was it? What did you do to get it? Have you found that purse-cutting is a suitable alternative for learning a trade? Do not fear. It is the duty of those better than you to bring you on the right path. So tell me. doll, where did you obtain this?

"I am not one of your unscrupulous peers who spare no thought to the origin of this money. The world is mine, doll, and I intend to keep everything that I may come in contact with sparkling clean. And that includes legal. If you return your spoils, you may just as well escape punishment. I believe that will be the best path for you... so hurry up and do it. You shall feel a great lightening of conscience afterwards." Here, she offered a small lightening of her voice, before continuing. "It is for the best that you obey me."

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Character Portrait: Raine Alba Character Portrait: Jaina Cassandra
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#, as written by xKyrie
Image


Watching the black-haired doll's reaction as patiently as she could, Cassandra held out the small bag of coins in her hand. While she looked every inch inferior compared to the one in front, the amethyst-haired doll was actually inwardly throwing her every swear words that she acquired from her mistress' uncouth mouth. She had remembered once thinking of cursing as very idiotic and unladylike. After all, she had observed from the matrons of the society on how they complained for a person's very vocal... speech. It was considered a shameful move but now as she waited for the stupid doll's hand, she found herself not caring a bit about it.

Very much tempted to push the coins on the superior-acting doll's ugly face, she then settled on discreetly fisting her purse with her left hand on the sides. Despite her initial judgment and disgust for the surroundings, she was forced to temporarily place her parasol at the nearby barely standing counter. She didn’t know how many more moments this stupid doll would waste to get the money but she would rather not want to look like an idiot cramming all of her belongings in her free hand—the other currently holding out the small bag.

Surreptitiously eyeing the jointed being, she could not stop shaking her head mentally. Noting on how pitiful-looking the slower doll was. She considered dolls of her generation cursed and deprived—the undoubtedly superior acting one’s that was. They had looked disgusting with or without the many layers of clothes covering their body and they looked so creepily very much still doll-like to the very core that Cassandra sometimes felt sorry for them. They moved slower, process information even way slower—than she could obviously and they are such old-age believers that she couldn’t stop shuddering whenever she had to have a prolonged stay with one of them, like now… for starters. They were truly such weak creatures that are destined to die way too easier compared to her kind.

Noticing her still outstretched hand, she almost groaned once she noted that it hadn't been more than a moment yet when she had last showed the other doll the coins. “I am really proud of my skills”, she randomly thought, studying the bag of coins. It had come from Madame Lilian, one of the many matrons she had successfully won over. Her latest victim actually. Recalling how she was able to deceive the older fat woman into doing all of her bidding, Cassandra lowered her head and smirked in secret.

The woman was such a stupid fool: easily swayed by a bit of charming words and praises complimented on her way. Cassandra had stayed with her for some few moons and it was only when they had visited Terota (due to her innocent request) that she decided to ditch the woman’s not-so-companionable presence. The woman had totally fallen under her traps when the amethyst-haired doll had deceitfully commented in passing on how she needed provisions in order to travel for her conquest to find her beloved prince. Lilian Gaborne had wasted no time in giving her lots of the said provisions worth more than just a thousand coins. Garments, foods, and even the escorts, the wealthy wife of a Duke gave her everything that she needed and wished for. 'Urgh! I can gag now!' She thought haughtily as she vanished away the remnants of the mistress of Hastings away from her mind.

Finally, after a seemingly long period of waiting, the archaic doll had reached for the money and took it into her jointed hands. Sighing quietly in relief, she gently massaged her hands and unconsciously waited with bated breath for her next action.

Perhaps, she wouldn’t dare not let me get off the journey now? 'That wasn’t a petty amount of monetary value after all! 'Unable to stop the small smirk from spreading on her lovely features, Cassandra’s eyes greatly widened when the jointed doll dropped the coin bag unceremoniously on the ground. Hearing the sounds of the coins knocking over each other as it abruptly fell, she almost missed the cold voice speaking. Feeling as if she was a jointed doll herself, instead of her prided jointless structure, she slowly comprehended the statements.

"So, doll, where did you get this money? I am honor-bound to report you to any and all authorities and persons whom you might have wronged. Tell me, and tell me the truth. This money was not earned by any proper practice was it? What did you do to get it? Have you found that purse-cutting is a suitable alternative for learning a trade? Do not fear. It is the duty of those better than you to bring you on the right path. So tell me. doll, where did you obtain this?



The black-haired being had spoken without waiting for her response and it was only because of Cassandra’s intellectual prowess that helped her understand the words even in a stunned state.

Almost growling but thankfully regaining her composure, she stared directly to the golden-eyed doll and spoke in the most detached tone she can master (despite her grave rage): “Those coins had come from a friend. Madame Lilian Gaborne of Hastings in case you wanted to know.” Cassandra decided to be truthful—since the money did came from the portly woman. And no matter how angry she was for this doll’s insolence, she was reminded to stick to her act even till the last moments. Though unintentionally leaving out the stutters as she then added “I would have appreciated it greatly if you asked me about it before you had so much cold-heartedly dropped my well-earned possessions without second thoughts…” Cassandra trailed off, snapping back into her meek persona when she was able to calm down for a bit.

“I can assure you that these coins didn’t come from illegal means. I could not dare imagine that dolls of your stature could be this… uncivilized and mean. I came here with clean conscience and with the hope finding my key. Remember that I am very sorry to say this and I meant no offense, but I feel that it is my duty to state this else you continue your wicked attitude. You, Madam are the worst kind of jointed doll that I have ever had the displeasure of knowing.

Gagging mentally at the respectful tone she had used, she continued cursing the damned doll in the confines of her mind. Cassandra curtsied stiffly, before gracefully lowering to collect the coins. With a grimace, she carefully took the gold back into the bag and once done, she wordlessly stood up.

Retrieving the rest of her belongings, she then turned to walk away. Not sparing the others another single glance when she reached the exit, she stopped momentously not caring to look back before she uttered: “Though I am obviously weaker than you are, I will not subject myself to the torture of the likes of you. Please look forward for my complaints to the local authority, because not only did you step over my humble being… you also intentionally shamed Madame Lilian’s name. Good day.”