Chapter 162 “Nilu”
Duncan quietly stared at “Nilu” who was placed in the box.
It was just an ordinary joint doll, very much in line with the “court girl” style that was popular in the city-state a century ago. With beautiful golden curly hair and a lace-encrusted dress, the joints of her arms were more pronounced in an old-fashioned spherical structure than Alice’s. Her face was made of ceramics, and her mouth and eyes showed the signature seam structure of old-fashioned dolls.
To be fair, the doll was so delicately crafted and well-kept that it’s hard to believe it’s been lying in a box for a century. Although it’s far from being a life-like “doll” like Alice, the little one named “Nilu” could also be described as beautiful.
A hundred years ago, Lucretia once bought another doll called “Luni” who was paired with this little one from this store, and now, “Nilu”, had come before Duncan. He didn’t mean to make this encounter, but it just happened.
Destiny was a wonderful thing…
“It doesn’t look like it’s been preserved for a century,” Duncan said thoughtfully, “she’s only a little bit old.”
“Elven products have always been known for their durability; after all, we usually use them for a long time. My puppet-making skills should be beyond many of my peers, and I don’t want my carefully crafted children to be separated from me after only a century or two.”
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“…… I understand, but it’s an antique in terms of human years.” Duncan raised an eye only to realize this well-preserved doll wasn’t some simple commodity, “I don’t think I can afford this.”
He hasn’t forgotten about the profit he earned from selling the dagger to Mr. Morris and reporting the cultists, but in comparison to this beautifully crafted piece of craftsmanship, he knows it couldn’t be cheap.
“Antique? I wasn’t thinking about that until you mentioned it,” the shopkeeper smiled with a pleasant expression on her chubby face, “it’s not expensive. In fact, if you buy that wig and matching silver hair accessory, I can sell you for a hundred and forty-two solas.”
This time it was Duncan’s turn to be surprised: “Why?”
“Maybe it’s just fate,” the shopkeeper said slowly, “Nilu has been lying quietly with me for so many years. I do not want her to remain lonely forever like this. Then you came along. It’s rare to find someone who loves dolls as much as you do these days. So consider this fate’s guidance…”
“Fate…” The corner of Duncan’s mouth visibly twitched. He usually liked to use this word to fool others in his own store, but he didn’t expect to have this phrase used on himself! “So the real situation is that you can’t sell it, right?”
Shopkeeper: “… Its fate.”
“Because it’s more or less connected with the cursed ‘Abnomar’ family, so it can’t be sold at all, right?”
“…… It’s really just fate.”
“Does this doll have other traits like curses? For example, will it come back if you toss it away? Or they will go to the kitchen while you are sleeping and grab the kitchen knife…”
The old woman’s eyes finally widened, and her voice now sounded an octave higher: “I specifically asked the priest to exorcise any evil spirit from it! I kept all the certificates too…”
Duncan chuckled: “See, it’s really because people suspect this doll is cursed. That’s why it can’t be sold, right?”
Old woman: “…”
“I opened an antique shop in the lower city,” Duncan exhaled, “an antique shop in the lower city, you get what I mean~?”
“…… That’s why I don’t like dealing with businessmen, especially those like you,” the old woman grumbled and sighed. “Alright, fine, it’s exactly because of that reason. She keeps getting older and older. Eventually, Nilu can only sit in my storage room. If you really want her, I’ll forget about giving a discount and sell you at cost for seventy-five solas. At least let me recover the fee for calling the priest to perform an exorcism.”
“Deal,” Duncan didn’t wait for the other party to finish and agreed.
In any case, he did have a huge interest in the doll. So even if there was no evidence of any connection between the little one and Lucretia, he figured he should buy her merely based on the “fate” factor alone.
This was his knee-jerk reaction after learning he actually had a pair of children in this world. Perhaps the kids would one day pop up from god knows where. At that point, bringing out this twin doll would help get the conversation going. In addition, he might even be able to find a connection using this doll. After all, the supernatural of this world often delivers itself in the strangest fashion. It’s not in his interest to assume too much otherwise.
“Then ‘Nilu’ is yours,” the old lady was a little stunned by Duncan’s quick response. She’s probably regretting why she didn’t keep a higher price and shoved the doll box forward. “You have to take good care of this child… Although I can see that you are a gentleman who really loves dolls, I still want to warn you not to think of Nilu as a cheap commodity.”
“Of course,” Duncan took the wooden box, closed the lid, and then looked up at the wig and hair accessories he had just chosen, “How much do those two add up?”
“425 solas, upfront price.” Duncan now got a toothache.
In the lower city, this was the living expenses of a whole family for two months! But in the upper city… It was only enough to buy two “accessories” for the luxury of the rich. To be honest, to say Duncan wasn’t shaken was a lie. But before his wavering heart could falter, he steeled himself to pay the price.
It was a gift he had promised Alice, and considering the gain he got from this doll shop today, the price seemed acceptable.
After comforting himself, Duncan exhaled softly and prepared to pay the money obediently.
It’s just that when he was paying the money, he suddenly remembered something again and couldn’t help but ask: “By the way, why did Lucrecia only buy Luni back then? Did she know about ‘Nilu’ as a sister?”
“…… Do you really want to know?” When the shopkeeper heard this, she showed a slightly unfathomable expression, “This matter… is another secret related to the Abnomar family.”
Duncan subconsciously inched closer: “Then I’m even more curious.”
“Then settle the bill first.”
Duncan was taken aback by the demand but quickly adjusted his face into a smile while handing the money over: “Can you tell me now?”
“Oh, it’s actually nothing,” the old lady said casually while collecting the money, “those two children didn’t have enough money back then. Lucretia was in tears when she left and said she would take Nilu with her when she had the money in the future. But from the way things look, it seems the lady had forgotten the matter…”
Is this old lady in front of me just special, or are all the elves in this world sick like this?
Back on the Vanished, which swayed slightly due to the undulating sea, Alice had returned to the upper deck after transporting the last of the things to the cabin.
“Captain~” Miss Doll happily leaned over at the thoughtful-looking ghost captain, “I sent everything to the cabin! Ingredients and kitchenware were delivered to the kitchen. Everything else I’ve left to the captain’s quarter!”
“Well done,” Duncan returned to his senses and sighed softly. Then focusing his eyes on the doll, “You’ve worked hard.”
“Captain… how are you now?” Alice peered up at Duncan and asked hesitantly, “Your face suddenly became very strange before. Are you really okay?”
Duncan shook his head: “Don’t worry, just some small problem.”
His mind was actually still a little bit troubled over the troubles that might arise from Tyrian and Lucretia’s existence. Then looking down at the cursed puppet in front of him and the connection she has with the Frost Queen, he couldn’t ignore the sheer coincidence of it all. As the old saying goes. When there are too many coincidences then it’s no longer a coincidence.
Heaving a long sigh, Duncan forcibly calms himself to stop the irritation. Then he turned to the resting bird on the deck and summoned her. In a flick, Ai burst into flame and disappeared from the ship again.
“Did Ai go to ‘deliver goods’ again?” Alice eyed the spot where the flame was mere seconds ago.
“Mhmm, not much this time,” Duncan nodded slightly, then looked at Alice with a hint of a smile, “It’s a gift for you.”
Alice’s eyes lit up: “Gift? A gift for me?! Captain, you really…”
Before Miss Doll’s voice could finish, a green vortex of flame suddenly appeared above the deck to cut her off. Ai had completed her teleportation from Pland with a new batch of materials. This time, she’s carrying a wig that instantly enraptured the doll’s eyes…