doll joints dot click

a doll who challenges prospective owners to a duel before she will allow anyone to own her.

she's never lost and she's frustrated.

one day, she walks into the shop of her usual artificer. her porcelain is charred, several fingers are missing, and there are deep cracks all over. and he can tell she's happier than he ever saw her. not like a human, it's far more subtle. but there are signs.

"finally found one, huh?"

she nods, touches the ruby gem that now rests on her collarbone with her less-damaged hand, and gives him a small smile and a pleasant chime. her voicebox is broken too, he guesses. shame. he'd have liked to know a bit about whoever her new owner is.

"well, i hope you two take up sparring, for my business's sake."

she looks at him right in the eyes for a moment, expression dead. a discordant chord, and she lies back down on the table.

"hope she installs a sense of humor in you too."

(they're genuinely very good friends, this is simply how they are. he's done her plenty of work for free, and she's helped him around the shop when he needed a pair of hands.)