A/N: I began this on what was basically a whim, but I like the concept and plan to continue it. Compared to my main project, these chapters are coming to me fairly easily, so I hope to update regularly. The German I've used was all from Google Translate, so if you actually know German I'd appreciate it if you could let me know of any mistakes! Constructive criticism in general is greatly appreciated.

Chapter 1: Marianne

"It's teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It's that simple." – Anne Lamott

The pink, fluffy room was filled with dolls. Dolls lined the shelves that filled every available amount of wall space. Dolls crowded around the bed and swarmed across the floor. Dolls were stuffed in the closet that was so full it couldn't be closed. There were cloth dolls and wood dolls, and porcelain ones, too. There were fine dolls from France, fragile ones from China, antique ones from all over, and even a few oddballs like a wooden nutcracker, a Russian nesting doll, and even some marionettes. Dolls of every description and size could be seen in Miss Marianne Facet's bedroom.

Not that the bedroom was untidy. Marianne lived in a big house, a mansion of sorts, and she had a big room on the second floor. It was true her closet was full, but she had a second closet for clothes. Yes, dolls crowded her bed, but the bed itself was open. Dolls were all across the floor, but there was still plenty of room to walk. In fact, in its own way, the whole place was rather orderly.

Among the army of dolls sat Miss Marianne herself, a girl at the age of six. She was a petite little thing, with honey-blonde curls tumbling about her pretty face. Among all the dolls she had to play with, she only held one at the moment: that of a young boy, with a face and limbs of porcelain, which had come to her from Denmark. This doll was one of a very few male dolls in the room, and his good-natured smile was what probably made him a favorite among the mostly expressionless horde.

But right now, Miss Marianne held her doll absentmindedly, her attention focused on the view from the window. The time for the blooming of the roses was ending, and the flowers were becoming quite bare.

But it wasn't the roses that Marianne was looking at as she gazed into the night. Rather, she was watching a woman carrying a suitcase.

She didn't like the aura of that woman, and she didn't like the look of that suitcase either. Or at least, her doll told her she shouldn't like them.

"Is she one of them, Kaleb?"

The doll's silence told Marianne that she was perfectly right.

"Is that so? I guess we should send her a greeting, then."

She opened the window, just a crack, and pulled something that looked like a piece of paper from a drawer nearby. The paper was in fact, another doll – the simplest doll she had, a paper cut-out that was just barely representative of a human form. It had come all the way from Japan.

This piece of paper she slipped through the crack in the window, and watched in flutter a few feet before being caught on the wind and flying right over the garden of half-dead roses, and right toward the woman with the suitcase walking along the sidewalk beside the house.

Just as the paper doll flew within a few feet of the woman, it did something very strange. It changed its course as though it had a mind of its own, and dived like an angry wasp toward the person. But with it only a foot away from her face the woman turned, her lips moved, and the paper doll burst into flames and burnt up in an instant.

Marianne gasped, and looked down at the doll she carried. "Does this mean she's a mage, too?" she inquired of Kaleb.

He again gave her a silent "yes."