Elador knew that he was admired and respected by most in the village so a gift from him would be eagerly accepted and treasured. He went to the homes
where he knew he'd find young girls and handed out the dolls impressing on everyone how precious they were.
There wasn't much need to explain that to the bemused recipients who could see quite well enough that the dolls were extravagant and expensive.
Everyone promised that they would cherish their doll.
And so they did, although in some ways that Elador couldn't envisage. These were village children after all and not used to owning anything that
needed to be taken care with. And so the dolls got taken out to play in the garden and snuggled up in rather grubby beds at night. Taken care of in
the only way the children knew how.
Elador meanwhile continued his fight with the demon who had noticed the absence of the women which was enraging him. Try as he might he couldn't find
them and it strengthened his desire to defeat Elador once and for all.
Wanting his loved ones back and able to live in safety strengthened Elador's resolve to defeat his foe once and for all.
Years passed and Elador and the demon spared no effort in their battle but Elador was getting old and feared for the safety of the women. If he became
too feeble or died all could be lost for them. He'd taken a gamble tying their Souls to the dolls but it had seemed worth the risk after looking at
the alternative. Now older, wiser, tireder he wished he had thought of another way.
And so he made his way to the village with the intention of asking for the dolls back.
What he didn't take into account was quite how much time had passed since he'd given them out.
He searched the village vainly for the little girls who had received the dolls but found no sign of them. The village was full of strange and unknown
Eventually he approached a careworn creature who had two small children hanging from her skirts. He asked where were the girls who had been given the
'Oh Sir' she tried to smile but looked rather guilty instead 'I had one. I remember the day you gave it to me'.
'Well, where is it?' demanded Elador, too impatient and excited to be kind or courteous.
'Er... it was a long time ago Sir, you understand. And I did love that doll, honestly I did. But, well, I don't have it any more. When it got old and
raggedy my Mam told me to take it to the doll hospital where they could er... find a use for the parts'.
Elador paled and felt his knees buckle. 'What about the others?'
'I don't know Sir. Probably ended up in the same place. Nobody expected you to come back for them, Sir. But they were all loved, all through our
childhoods... we treasured them just like you asked'
Elador staggered away, he'd never imagined this outcome. Slowly it started to dawn on him how much his fight with the demon had taken out of him, how
much of his time it had consumed. To the point where he'd condemned the most precious people in the world to... to what? He didn't know and hardly
dared to think about it.
He wandered through the village and eventually found the toymaker's workshop. The old man didn't look any too happy to see him. Elador wondered why,
but asked about the dolls anyway.
'Oh those' snorted the toymaker. 'Yes, I've got lots of their parts somewhere – boxes of them. Shoddily made if you ask me. If you'd wanted dolls,
Sir, you could have asked me to make you some. They'd have lasted longer and better than that imported stuff'.
Irritated by the man's attitude Elador haughtily asked if he could have whatever of the dolls was available. He put up with the old man's huffing and
grumbling, barely. At last all the bits had been found. Bits of dolls that had been, almost literally, loved to death.
But no-one had loved them for many years and the spell had demanded that they always be loved. Elador shuddered as he looked at the grotesque remains
and tried his best to start loving them, not noticing the small traces of magic emanating from them.
Slowly he started to trudge home, arms full of boxes. He picked up his pace a bit as he started to feel as if he was being followed. He had to get to
the crypt and the dash to get there along an obscure forest footpath became frantic. With every step he felt something gaining on him, then holding
back, then gaining again.
The crypt was the end of the path and Elador kept on going. He just needed to get in there, close the door and renew the protection ritual which, now
that he thought of it, he might have neglected to do lately.
He entered and found the early evening light shining onto a throne. A throne that he hadn't put there. He heard a whisper echoing around the crypt
'Welcome, Elador. You've been neglectful in your duties. Time to pay the price I think'.
He looked at the throne, it would be just like a demon to manifest a throne along with itself. He expected it to appear at any moment, to sit there
and gloat at him. But it didn't. It satisfied itself with being an invisible presence and took exquisite pleasure in opening, one by one, the vaults
containing the coffins of Elador's ladies. And opening one by one each of the coffins.
Elador gasped as he looked into the nearest one which contained a woman who truly loved him. Thankfully she was still in one piece but had come to
resemble her doll. Her clothes were ragged and her hair had fallen away. She had a look of neglect and Elador knew that if she opened her eyes they
would be dull and accusatory.
He couldn't bear to look at any of the others. He knew they'd all be the same.
'Time for a deal, I think' whispered a voice just behind him. Elador had no choice if he wanted to save them. Even at the expense of himself.
'Name your terms' he whispered back.
'Well, I don't want them for eternity. I'm far too busy to bother myself with torturing your paramours forever. I won't even ask for their Souls, not
even for a day'.
'Just put their souls back in their bodies and I'll let them live. They'll be free as a bird when they die'.
'In return for what?'
'Just sit in my throne for the duration of their lives. When they're all dead you'll be free to go, too'.
'Yes, that's it. Just say you agree'.
And even though it sounded too good to be true, Elador agreed.
He performed the necessary ritual and watched as his women came back to life. He tried in vain not to hear their lamenting and wailing or see their
distress at the sight of themselves.
It was almost a relief to climb onto the throne and await his fate. The demon didn't waste any time and, to his absolute horror, Elador found himself
turned into stone. Well, the most exquisite marble to be exact. 'Only the best for you' chuckled the demon.
With mounting horror Elador realised that not only would he be a stone statue until the end of the women's lives but he'd be fully conscious, too.
The demon whispered again 'Now ladies, you'd better get back to your lives. But take good care of yourselves, they're going to be long ones. Very long
The women all looked at each other and then at Elador. Truth to tell it was a bit hard for any of them to feel sorry for him. Not after over a decade
of being dolls. He'd just have to cope for the next few decades, even if any one of them lived to be a hundred.
edit on 25-4-2016 by berenike because: (no reason given)