Previously: Demora felt fluttering in the pit of her stomach as she turned her head to look at her friends. Her eyes widened; They were all painted in place, unmoving.
Eh! Where Did My Pen... Pen... Go!?!
Book 1.5: Amaranthe Guild – Side Stories
The Puppet Asylum (Part 8A)
In fact, the only life-like objects in the room (other than herself) was her bunny bear plushie and the little magical girl that was gracefully walking her way...
The little girl approached the cart that was too tall for her to see atop of. Looking down at the floor, she unsummoned her paintbrush then rummaged through one of her coat pockets. Smiling, she pulled out a rose pink button and tossed it on the floor in front of the cart.
“Embiggen,” she whispered as the button grew as round as a basketball hoop. With a nod of her head, she stepped onto the inch thick button disc and muttered another word which Demora couldn't quite make out; The button disc rose up off the floor allowing the loli to hover before her fluffy target.
Reaching out with small hands, she lifted the big bunny bear bag up off the cart and began to inspect it with big curious eyes.
“Hard to believe that such a fun whimsical plushie bag was made from discarded plushies... How wonderfully creative. And these stitchings, while simple, are well-chosen and excellently done.
These threadings are amazing as well; They have the potential to be amongst the best I've seen and used. I never would have guessed that such a young doll crafter could make them...” The loli said aloud in a voice that even world-famous singers would envy.
As the little girl continued to inspect the bunny bear, Demora's eyes returned to her friends; They stood still, painted into the surroundings. [“Nessi... Harvey... Koey... c-can you hear me? Are you okay? Just blink your eyes if you can hear...”]
“No need to worry, Dea.” The little girl assured her as she placed the bunny bear back onto the cart. “I didn't harm them. Nor will I. They are merely in a painted chrono-stasis like being on red light when playing that game...”
“Oh, thank god (the little girl giggled). I feel so much better knowing that,” Demora said as her stomach butterflies calmed and her muscles relaxed. “Wait... H-how do you know me? I don't recall us ever meeting before...”
“That's because this is our first time meeting. Up until now, I've been having a great time eating delicious sweets while watching your adventures on the Divine Livestream above... Well, also when I visit my bestie's home in the Netherworld city below like today.
You're her favorite Livestream!
This is no surprise since she played a very big role in creating your new... you. And you are proving to be totally worth the effort it took to remake you.
Anyways, I learned all about you from her and started watching your Livestream and I'm now hooked too! So I feel I've gotten to know you quite well... and I must say, you're much prettier in person. That's not to say you're not pretty in-stream because you are. You have quite the following you know.
Anyways, I'm happy to say that we have much in common like our wonderful taste in outfits and love of cute cuddly dollies. (She gestured to the trio of mini-plushies hanging from her fluffy ribbon belt.)
So after seeing such a cute fluffy girl craft this amazing bunny bear bag I just couldn't help but come up to have a closer look. After all, I'm one of your biggest fans.
And I must say, I'm glad I did for you are truly gifted; A veritable Mozart of fabrics and threads. As such, I have decided to give you my blessing...” She said as her button disc hovered over to a stop before Demora.
“Blessing? Then that must mean you're a...”
“Wizard?... No.” She said with a chuckle, laughing at her own joke as she raised her hands to her head and lowered her hood setting her long silky twin-tail ringlets free; Revealing their silvery-white colors that melted into blends of blues and lavenders matching her coat and beautiful Heterochromia eyes.
“I am the Goddess Miabella. Well, a goddess in training that is... Still, I'm the daughter of Espiriella, the Goddess of MusArts and Crafts.
As such, I believe you would benefit greatly from my blessing. After all, not only will it increase your dexterity, making it easier to work with your hands and arachneth legs, but it'll also increase the quality of all your crafts which is quite the boon for a voden. And judging by the Sigil Ring on the back of your neck it looks like you have room for one more... so will you accept?”
“Accept her blessing? I-is this for real?” Demora softly asked herself as she looked down with brows scrunched...
I mean, according to everything I read before this game released, being given such a blessing is a super rare event. So what are the odds of some magical loli deity in training, claiming to be one of my biggest fans because she watched me on this so-called Divine Livestream, popping out of a wardrobe like a box of cracker jacks offering me a grand prize...
This offer seems too good to be true.
Maybe this is some kind of game or trap from this Puppet Asylum. She's not some kind of trickster doctor of this asylum... is she?
But what if it's... real?
Not only would I forever regret saying no but I'd be one of this game's biggest fools for missing out on this golden opportunity of receiving such a fitting blessing. Plus, this little girl... umm... Goddess seems to be truly sincere and good-hearted so...
“Yes, please. I accept.” Demora said in a steady voice as her hands continued to clutch the handle of her umbrella.
The Goddess Miabella's face bloomed into happiness and her balled up little fists hidden within the sleeves of her coat opened. After all, not only would this be her first blessing but Dea was her favorite Livestreamer! As such, she would be thoroughly embarrassed if her blessing failed so she would give it her all and toss in a little bonus gift or two to boot (with 'little' being quite subjective).
“Ready, Dea?” The loli Goddess asked.
Demora gulped, then nodded her head.
The Goddess reached out with her fair hand, parting the barrier of colorful light like lacy silk curtains. “Okay, here goes... just like it says in my goddess training manual...” Demora's eyes widened and she opened her mouth to speak but froze as Miabella's ethereal hand pierced her chest.
Demora shivered but felt no pain; On the contrary, the young goddess's touch was warm and comforting. She closed her eyes as a small sound of happiness escaped her lips.
“There it is... your soul. Just a pinch is all I need...” Miabella muttered in soothing tones.
Pinch? Pinch of wha... “EEK!” Demora yelped as she felt a short sharp pain like one would feel when stung in the chest by a bee. Her head bent down watching as the little Goddess retracted her hand from her body; Miabella held a small glob of what looked like ethereal clay between her thumb and fingers.
“What is that?” Demora asked softly, rubbing her chest as the pain faded away.
“This...” Miabella said, holding up the wiggling clay for her to clearly see. “Is a small piece of your soul.” She smiled.
“M-my soul? You took a piece of my soul... put a hole in my soul? W-why? What are you going to do with it? And what's going to happen to my soul?...” Demora's lips trembled and her breath quickened.
“No need to worry, Dea. Your soul will heal. After all, you're a voden. Your magic comes from your soul, is powered by your soul, and will completely regenerate with time.”
“Huh? My magic is powered by my soul... What happens if I use too much of my magic? Will my soul disappear...” Demora began to fiddle with her hands as her umbrella stood on its own beside her.
“Fear not for you can never use your soul's core so you don't have to worry about that. In fact, thanks to the blessing you received from the Goddess Elunora, your soul will regenerate at a much faster rate.”
Her words eased Demora's worries and calmed her fears.
“Now, as for why I took a piece of your soul it's to give you a gift...” The Goddess said as she infused the 'soul-clay' with her magic causing it to shapeshift on the palm of her hand; It grew a pair of bunny ears on its head and sprouted six little arachneth legs from its back as it became a miniature statuette of Demora.
The mini-Demora then jumped off Miabella's open palm, hopping through the air towards the cart where it froze in the air as a haunting song from a woodwind flute streamed out of the open wardrobe door followed by the arrival of another cute girl.
The slender newcomer stood still looking like a beautiful china doll with long (mostly straight) silky hair cascading down her back in blends of pitch black and white. Her ethereal blue eyes scanned the room, zooming in on the mini-Demora. “That's no fair Mia. You came here to give Dea blessings and gifts without me...” The girl softly reproached as she glided over the floor towards Mia, shrinking down to their size along the way; Her ancient Asian inspired dress floating with her movements.
“I just couldn't help myself Kaili. You see, when you left the room to see what your mother wanted, Dea here crafted this irresistible bunny bear plushie and you know how much I love cute and fluffy dollies so I just had to cross over right away to have a closer look and reward her.
Besides, she already has your blessing which is why her Voden magic is so strong.” Mia countered, then turned to face Demora, “By the way Dea, that's really the reason you were able to bind an actual Soul Fetcher... Well, that and the fact that Kukoey is so young. I must say, I really love the name you gave her...”
A slightly annoyed Kaili reached out and tugged Mia's sleeve, redirecting her attention back to herself. “Hey, don't go wandering off-topic... Mother just wanted to know about the yokai that have recently crossed over into the round mortal city of Revenkai by way of the Nethstrom Carousel Gate. I handed her the list and returned to find you gone and on the Divine Livestream about to give my... umm... I mean Dea your blessing and gift.
Sure, it's true that she already has my blessing but I haven't given her a gift yet... And you knew how much I wanted too.” Kaili lightly frowned as her hands fidgeted within the long and loose-fitting sleeves of her beautiful flowing dress.
“Hmm, that's true... How about if we both give her this gift together?” Mia asked, gesturing at the mini-Dea that was still frozen mid-air near and above the bunny bear plushie.
“Give her a gift together?... Well, if you insist then so be it.” Kaili glided over to the soul-clay statuette and with a wave of her hand infused the mini-Dea with her energy causing it to increase in size by half and grow a pack on its back. The corners of her mouth turned up as she nodded at the result.
Hiding her small smile, Kaili floated to Mia's side, turned to face the cart, and snapped her fingers freeing mini-Dea from stasis; Regaining its movement, mini-Dea fell downwards and disappeared into the bunny bear's chest. The fluffy plushie creation pulsed with light and jerked about with soft whumps atop the cart for several breathes before coming to a stop.
“What was that all about?” Demora asked, head tilted as she stared at her bunny bear.
Miabella just continued to smile, swaying side to side, eyeing the plushie; Kaili stood still beside her as her silken dress and hair lightly moved as if blown by a gentle breeze.
The plushie sat up and looked down with button eyes at its legs hanging off the cart's edge; It kicked them in and out for a few moments. The cutie then lifted its fluffy arms and moved them about testing their motion. Satisfied, it grabbed hold of the cart with fluffy paws, pushed off, and fell face-first onto the floor “Whump!”
The sight was quite comical but Demora's lips only twitched as she held back her laughter since she was worried it had hurt itself.
The Bunny Bear Bag pushed itself up onto its knees and then with an effort, got up off the floor to a wobbly stand. It turned its head to look about, coming to a stop on Demora. Its face seemed to brighten; It pattered her way, arms out wide as if walking on a balance beam.
“So cute... is it alive?” Demora asked as she hugged her new companion that was a tad bit taller (and wider) than her; The little bunny bear made some happy little 'kuun' sounds.
“It's a very, very special plushie golem that's kind of like your favorite storybook puppet... only better. After all, that puppet wasn't given any special gifts by an amazing pair of soon to be full-fledged Goddesses. And who knows, depending on the choices you make... maybe one day it will become a real bunny bear.” Miabella winked.