The light from the sun stung Dain’s eyes as he slowly opened them. The sun was low and red in the window, fully visible. He closed them again, red still burned on the back of his eyelids.
‘What time is it?’ His senses slowly returned as he awoke. Suddenly, fear struck him. The doll was gone. Dain didn’t understand why he was so shaken by her absence. He’d stretched out in his sleep, and someone had covered him with a blanket at some point.
‘I have to find her.’ Even though he was fully aware of the obscurity and risk of the situation he had carelessly put himself in, an almost subconscious force drove Dain out of bed. A harsh conflict was unfolding within him; he felt like an idiot for staying at the hotel and he hated that he had been so intimate with a complete (and possibly dangerous) stranger. Well, most of him hated the latter. He had definitely enjoyed parts of the doll last night. Even though it was hard to put his feelings in to clear thoughts, Dain definitely felt attached to her. Not knowing why she had left while he was sleeping troubled him greatly. As much as he hated to think about it, Dain was vulnerable and easily fell prey to his emotions.
‘Just because it was alright this time doesn’t mean it wasn’t fucking dumb.’ He tried to rationalize these thoughts away. What scared him most was how quickly his feelings for the doll had developed. Relationships were supposed to take time, and pursuing this doll was not part of Dain’s plans.
‘Could it be though? If she’s still around, maybe she’ll travel with me… or something like that? No. That’s fucking ridiculous. I’m not prepared for a companion. Besides, she’s probably long gone.’ The feeling of wanting to blindly trust and follow the doll was becoming a little too comfortable.
Surfacing from his thoughts, Dain found himself stopped at the top of the stairs. While he had been reflecting, he had unconsciously gotten dressed (he assumed the doll had fully undressed him at some point as well) and walked out of the bedroom. He shook his head, trying to clear the swarm of thoughts in his head.
‘I still want to find her. I at least have to know if she’s still here.’ As Dain descended into the bar area, a surge of relief hit him. The doll was there. She was in the exact same place as she had been when he first saw her.
“U-um… hello?” He cringed inwardly as his awkward question hung in the air. She didn’t answer, but Dain approached the bar where she stood. The doll slowly turned to him, smiling.
“Good evening, Mister.” Her voice was soft as always, but hearing it now sent a thrill through Dain. He felt like he could get drunk off of her quiet, innocent voice.
“Hold on. Evening?” The doll’s unexpected greeting had shaken Dain a bit.
‘How long was I asleep?’ As if reading his thoughts, she answered.
“It’s been two days…” Her voice trailed off as she stared in to the distance, remembering what had transpired two nights ago. A thin, wistful smile adorned her face.
“Two days?” The doll nodded and Dain reeled a bit in shock. He had heard of people being drained after having sex, but this was ridiculous.
“You lost lots of Spirit Energy. I didn’t think I would eat that much.” They both blushed and Dain’s stomach growled loudly.
“Do you have any food?” The doll scowled faintly.
“Are you stupid?” her insult surprised him. Her usual calm and collected demeanor had changed to anger and frustration. Embarrassment quickly replaced surprise as Dain realized how insensitive his question had been.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize…” The doll probably hadn’t eaten in days, or even weeks. Even if she had access to regular human food, he wasn’t even sure if she could have consumed it. The doll’s expression slowly returned to normal as Dain apologized again. He hoped he hadn’t offended her too much. Secretly, he couldn’t bear the thought of her rejecting him.
“It’s ok, I still have something with me. I’ll be fine.” Dain rummaged through his pack and pulled out a loaf of bread. It had gone a little stale since he bought it in the last town, but it would do. He bit in to it hungrily and he and the doll sat in silence for a while.
“What’s your name?” Dain’s abrupt and awkward question seemed to startle the doll.
“…Hina.” she answered. The sound of her name made him shiver slightly.
“I’m Dain. Nice to meet you… I guess.” Hina nodded, ignoring his awkwardness. Every time Dain said his own name aloud he felt embarrassed. Names were an intimate, personal thing to him.
“What are you doing here?” Dain’s questions were blunt, but Hina didn’t seem to mind.
“Waiting,” she replied. After a few seconds she added, “Now that you’re here, I’m not waiting any more.” These words brought an odd sense of satisfaction to Dain.
‘She’s glad I’m here…’ Things were becoming a little clearer to him now. The doll hadn’t abandoned him. What was more, she was grateful to him. His worries were slowly ebbing away.
“But what’s your story? What happened to this place?” Dain’s curiosity was becoming difficult for him to control. Hina frowned again and remained silent for a moment.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Her sad, faraway look had returned but her words were firm.
“Are you sure? Doesn’t it help to talk about these things? I mean, have you ever told anyone else?” This moment of empathy and clear thought surprised Dain. He always had a hard time connecting to people, let alone trying to help them with their problems. He knew he overthought things a lot, but his interest in Hina had distracted him from his usual inner thought process. Dain didn’t realize it, but he less he thought, the more naturally words and feelings came to him.
“…okay.” This surprised Dain even more. Hina’s expression was sad and distressed. Dain knew that this was a sensitive subject, but she had decided to discuss it anyway. Again, he was touched at how much Hina seemed to trust him. Or wanted to trust him. Part of him thought she was foolish for that, but he didn’t really care.
Dain hadn’t noticed it before, but whenever Hina looked at him her expression shifted ever so slightly to one of hope and trust.
‘I guess she does need some love.’ More and more, Dain was noticing how much his paternal instincts were aroused when he was with the doll. Even though he was aware that they might not be his actual feelings, they felt very natural. He pulled up the least broken chair he could find and sat down. The chair was missing half of the back and wobbled when he shifted his weight, but it was better than standing in Dain’s opinion.
“Go ahead.” He said. “Take your time.” He smiled and waited patiently. Hina took a deep breath and began her story.
-- -- -- -- --
Fifty years ago, the town of Rhead was founded in the center of miles and miles of fertile soil. The main product of the town was wheat. Its vast fields provided food for dozens of surrounding towns, which brought great wealth and business. The area it was located in was very peaceful and free of dangerous monsters. Girthy roads were built to draw in more and more wealth; soon, Rhead became a widely known stop for travellers. Hundreds of merchants, soldiers and even a few heroes passed through each year. Taverns and hotels were opened and the town grew in to a city as it became even wealthier and more well known. Artisans opened shops and sold their wares to travellers and townspeople. A local government developed, but it was very lax and uninvolved as the vast majority of the goings-on in the town were friendly and nonviolent. The law enforcement of the city was merely there for show as the scarce conflicts of the people of Rhead were all handled internally. Despite its success, there wasn’t really much to do in the city unless you were a merchant or a farmer or a traveller, so no heroes or high profile people ever settled there. It was a quiet, peaceful place that had an aura of serenity. Most adventurers found it quite boring after awhile. There were still many permanent residents, but the population fluctuated greatly as the seasons passed. This transient nature and utter lack of foresight and fear were ultimately the city’s downfall.
Commerce slowed down greatly during the frigid winters and most people kept to themselves to avoid the cold. Thirty-five years after the founding of Rhead, a great famine struck the land. The remainder of that year was very slow, and commerce came to a near standstill. Without any wheat to attract the seasonal merchants, the town was empty and much less inviting than it had been. Things started to pick up the following harvest season, but Rhead never really recovered. As the Demon Lord rose to power, monster sightings became more and more common. Imps and Succubi began to raid the outskirts of the city, seducing men and boys and then disappearing with them. As long as the Rheaders weren’t directly affected by anything bad or evil, they lived in denial of the world around them. The city was large, and even though everyone knew the stories, nobody believed that their lives would change. Because of this, the monsters grew bold fairly quickly, disguising themselves and taking people from deep within the city. Most of the kidnapped men and boys never came back. Those that did were changed. A lot of them had become dangerous Incubi who took wives and harems from the town, usually by force. All the females they took fell prey to Demon Energy and monsterized. Other victims tried to return to their lives, but eventually drove their loved ones away due to increasingly violent sexual behavior.
Before the invasions started, a poor farmer named Yan lived on the outskirts of town. Yan was a disagreeable fellow, extremely lazy and withdrawn. He preferred to let others work for him. His wife left him nearly a year before the raids started. She was a very young, immature girl who wasn’t prepared for the daughter that Yan gave her. Yan wasn’t either, but his wife left her daughter behind when she ran. The daughter’s name was Ana. Hina had been made for Ana by one of the more skilled artisans that visited Rhead. This artisan was known all throughout the city as Gammon. Gammon and was a kind, generous old man with long, white hair and an equally long, white beard. Originally, he stayed at an inn in the city, but when Yan heard of him, he offered Gammon a place to stay. Yan was very clever. He knew Gammon wouldn’t have a problem doing most of the work on his farm. Even if he did, Yan doubted Gammon would confront him about anything. Ana took to her new family member almost immediately. He reminded her of her grandfather (Yan’s father) who had died the year before, and Ana reminded Gammon of his own daughter. The two were rarely seen apart from each other.
Gammon’s masterful wooden sculptures and lovable personality brought a much need ray of joy to the otherwise bleak city. He always had small trinkets and kind words for everyone that he met and he would offer his assistance anywhere he could. He was also very skilled at repairing things and making small innovations that made life easier for the townspeople. The things he made and repaired seemed to last for much longer than expected. Some people went as far as to call him a wizard, but Gammon denied all of these claims passionately. However, several people saw through his benign obstinacy. It was clear to the more experienced mages that passed through the town that Gammon augmented his work with a few basic and harmless enchantments. Those who knew didn’t pester him, as most people were aware that wizards had been greatly discriminated against in the time when Gammon was young. Even though he only stayed in town for a single summer, Gammon left a great feeling of love is his wake.
Hina was Gammon’s only doll that he made. His preferred style was abstract, focusing on shapes and curves more than people or animals. Originally, Hina had been for Gammon’s own daughter, but she, along with the rest of his family had died due to illness far before Hina was finished. Ana had always loved dolls, and she asked about Hina’s progress almost every day. Gammon’s answer was always the same. “We’ll see, Ana. We’ll see.” Unbeknownst to her, Gammon worked on Hina every single night after she went to sleep. Perhaps it was the memories of his late family, or it could have been the love shown to him by the farmer’s daughter and the rest of the town, but Gammon was determined that Hina would be perfect. He poured all of his love and care into her. She was his masterpiece. He wanted to finish her quickly though. Gammon fully aware that Yan treated him more as a servant than anything else, and he was nearing the end of his rope. His strength was fading and he didn’t want to live out the rest of his days under Yan’s oppressive roof. He was very sorry that he would have to leave Ana, but he hoped that having Hina could help ease her pain a bit. The night he left, Gammon put the completed Hina in bed with Ana as she slept.
Ana loved Hina just as much as Gammon had as he was creating her, if not more. She took Hina everywhere with her. She loved to change her clothes and make new outfits for her out of old bits of fabric that she found. Ana took Hina to school, to the city and out into the wheat fields to play. Ana didn’t have many friends, but she didn’t mind. Hina was more than enough for her. She would constantly talk to Hina as if she were real, telling her stories or little bits of knowledge that she had learned in school.
Two winters after the famine, a particularly cunning Baphomet called Encarca set up camp quite close to Rhead. At first, she and her Sabbath made small missionary trips into the city to try and win converts for their ‘Church of the Enchanted Maiden’. The church was merely a front to lure people in, what they would really sign up for is the Sabbath itself. To the citizens of Rhead, the Witches and Familiars of the Sabbath looked like ordinary girls. Nobody in the city had any real experience with the tricks that monsters employed to catch their prey, so they welcomed the Sabbath with open arms. Even though the Sabbath was welcomed in Rhead, they gained very few converts. The Rheaders were a very conservative, traditional people who wouldn’t uproot their lives just because a bunch of cute missionary girls wanted them to. Encarca grew more and more frustrated. Her Sabbath’s ranks had been worn thin in a recent war with a Lilim, and the citizens of Rhead were being uncooperative. She didn’t like to use force to strengthen her numbers. She found willing converts much more reliable, but she was getting desperate. One fateful spring night, the Sabbath abducted most of the female children and younger women of the city in a tremendous raid. The Rheaders were no match for the powerful magic technology of the Sabbath. As soon as she had caught her prey, Encarca and her following disappeared. The remaining citizens of Rhead got scared and moved away as fast as they could after that. The final people had abandoned the town close to three years ago.
Ana was one of the Sabbath’s victims. She was gagged, bound and taken away in the middle of the city as she was on her way home form school in the late evening. Hina was left behind in an alley; abandoned in town after everyone had left. Monsters came and went, leaving traces of their Demon Energy throughout the abandoned city of Rhead. The love and care that Gammon had poured into Hina as well as Ana’s love for her made Hina into a lightning rod for the Demon Energy that was left behind. Eventually, enough energy had accumulated in her that she became a monster herself.
Hina retained faint memories starting from when she was first created. Her memory got stronger after the time that she was placed into Ana’s bed. From what she could tell, she was technically around nineteen years old. She could remember Ana’s warm embrace, her sweet, caring voice and the stories and thoughts that she had shared. She could remember the terrifying events that occurred when Ana was taken from her. More than anything though, Hina remembered love. The absence of her only friend left a massive, lonely hole in Hina’s heart. She searched in vain for any trace of Ana left in or around Rhead. There were none. Hina then returned to the city, hoping in vain that her friend would return one day. She was on her own for several years, absorbing any trace of love or Spirit Energy that she could to sustain herself. Everything in existence has the ability to retain either Spirit or Demon Energy, and Hina was able to use it to stay alive. Anything from a well used and cared for piece of clothing to even a piece of furniture could satisfy Hina for a short time. Clothes were Hina’s favorite. She had many memories of Ana dressing her in a multitude of different outfits. Consuming energy from and wearing old clothes made these memories stronger. Her feelings became so strong that Hina found herself unable to part with any of the outfits she wore. She figured out a way to completely absorb an outfit with her Demon Energy and keep it in a database in her head. Unfortunately, the more she remembered abut Ana, the worse Hina felt. The last thing she wanted to do was die and fade away. She couldn’t bear the thought of leaving this world and forgetting her friend. Ana was going to come back one day and Hina had to be there for her, just like she had in the past. She had to.
Eventually, Hina settled at The Drunken Spider hotel. The Drunken Spider had been the busiest hotel if it’s kind in Rhead, so Hina found decent sustenance and a modicum of comfort in is abandoned rooms. Once her energy supplies ran dry, Hina took to burning the Alraune incense. The tavern had dozens of boxes of the stuff behind the bar. The warning that came written on the inside of every box of incense was the same. ‘ONCE CLIMAX IS REACHED, EFFECTS OF INCENSE WILL FADE. EFFECTS VARY BY SPECIES.’ Below that, in smaller writing more side effects were listed. ‘Temporary Paralysis, Extreme Infatuation, Sexual Violence, Dependence.’ The warnings scared Hina. If the incense did manage to attract somebody there was no telling what would happen once they interacted. This thought haunted her mercilessly. Even so, she had to find somebody. At this point, it could be anybody. If she did find someone, maybe they could help her find Ana again, or at least help her find someone else who could. They could also feed her.
At first, Hina burned the incense in copious amounts, quickly becoming addicted to its intoxicating scent. It didn’t fulfill her hunger as much as the traces of energy she had consumed before, but it was still just barely enough. Besides addiction, the incense had another effect on Hina. Like with anyone subjected to Alraune incense, she became exceedingly horny. Its effect was greater on her due to the fact that she was in a profound state of emotional starvation. This was torturous to her. Being in that state without receiving any Spirit Energy was like cooking a delicious meal, but being forced to throw it away and lick the plates and silverware instead. Orgasms didn’t help at all. There were times that Hina would pleasure herself for days on end, hoping in vain that some satisfaction would come of it. No matter how long or how intensely she came, the extreme sadness and loneliness was always there. Hina had all but given up hope a few days before Dain had arrived. The incense was gone. The smell still lingered, but it would fade soon. Hina wallowed in regret at being so liberal with it when she had first found it. As the hours passed, Hina became more and more lethargic. She could feel the energy fading from her, as she slowly reverted back into her original doll form. She had all but resigned herself becoming small and inanimate again. Her memories would fade, and even if Ana were to return, Hina wouldn’t even realize it. When Dain touched her face the night he arrived, enough Spirit Energy transferred to Hina to give her just enough strength to pursue more.
-- -- -- -- --