The Traveling Merchant
It was a curious sight to behold. While stories of dolls and dollcraft were known in these parts, they were fables told to your children at night. None ever expected to meet such a creature, much less for one to arrive dragging an enormous cart of goods for sale.
Immediately, the girl drew the attention of all in town. Small oddities were enough to keep people abuzz for days or weeks in a slow village like this one, but an actual doll from straight out of the picture books would be all anyone could talk about for at least a season.
The cart was laden down with all manner of wares, from earthen to house to silver. It was such an eclectic mix across a range of specialties that none gathered could scarce believe the doll when she said they were all made by her personally.
She hardly looked the part of a blacksmith, a stonemason, a ceramist, or much less a traveling merchant. Bedecked in apron and oven mitts as she was, she looked more at home in a kitchen than on the road. Still, she sang the praises of her work.
She spoke in a sweet, lilting voice, like the audio equivalent of berries and cream. “Ladies, gents, and other clients, this one brings a selection of goods Purposefully made and Purposefully sold. You’ve all been burned by shoddy handiwork once or twice, no doubt… But there’s no work like dollwork. Every piece practically perfect, per this porcelain puppet’s personal Purpose. This one does not tire. She does not sleep. She does not have ‘off’ days. She lives to craft and she crafts to live, just as her Witch Made her to be. Take a piece of this doll’s work home with you and you take home a little piece of Magick. Get a taste of the life the witches live.”
After that pitch, not one among them could resist purchasing something from the little doll. Coins were exchanged for goods again and again and again. Every one of the villagers left with some new toy, tool, or treasure for their homes. There was even the odd tchotchke or trifle.
Even after unloading all those wares, the cart still looked far too heavy a burden for such a small thing to move. Yet move it she did, thanking her patrons and waving her goodbyes. The doll had little need for rest, so it was onwards to sell what was left.
After her departure, life went on as it does. The doll’s tools held strong and her knick-knacks shined true like no other the townsfolk had come by before. Those who had missed her visit cursed their fate for not having been there to partake.
It was weeks before any of her wares began to break, but break they did. The first was a rake whose handle snapped on some early frost. It had been the prized possession of the gardener who’d bought it, the shock and disappointment clear on their face.
As curious a thing as the doll who had made it though, once broken the rake no longer looked the part of a rake. Where splinters and wood chips should be, the varnish gave way to crumb, caramel, and the scent of spice, but the gardener thought that simply couldn’t be.
Seeing only one way to truly confirm the sight before their eyes, the gardener picked up their broken treasure and took a nibble. They immediately regretted that decision. The rake was in fact the most horrid confection they’d ever eaten, with a texture like sugar turned clay.
Soon, all in town would taste the same betrayal. The rakes, the stakes, the brakes, the toy snakes and keepsakes, the ceramic snowflakes; all of them fakes. All of them cakes.
The doll was gone long before any would realize her work to be mere facsimiles. Her goods really were quite good… for the materials she worked in. Smiling to herself, her Purpose fulfilled, Fondant dragged her cart to the next town, eager to find new customers.
This story continues here.