Edel

"Flames." Not once more. This time, she refused.

"Do you remember how I helped you, Ahiru?" Edel asked.

Ahiru gave a small smile. "Thank you so much. You were the one who helped me see what Drosselmeyer was planning, the one who turned this story from a tragedy into a triumph. Or, at least, back then it was a triumph. Now, it's an epic fail on everybody's part." Ahiru looked around for confirmation as each of the other five nodded.

"After the story was over, Drosselmeyer didn't have any control over your realm." Edel continued, gazing at her folded hands. "But his own realm? The land of story-spinning? That's where I went. I was more a spirit than a body then, you see.

He was still as powerful as ever over his own territory. And he was very bitter about having his tragedy ruined. For a while he blamed it on you, little duck, for not drowning in the depths of despair. He shifted the responsibility to each of the characters in turn: Fakir for writing a happy ending, Rue for not being a satisfying victim, and eventually Mytho for defeating the evil raven. Finally, he decided to blame it on me, for I was the only one he could take out his anger on. He accused me of working for myself rather than him, of taking on an identity other than mindless puppet. Most of all, Drosselmeyer was infuriated that I'd told you the secret of the last heart-shard being stored within your pendant.

I didn't say anything, because that was exactly what I'd done. I wanted to help you, Ahiru, more than anything I've ever wanted to do. You were so innocent, so cheerful, so deserving of happiness. So I helped you.

I thought his rage would be something passing. I thought he would let it go and eventually it would be forgotten.

So I was wandering around his world of turning gears, minding my own business, when in storms Drosselmeyer.

"You've betrayed me!" He screamed. He was crazy! He kept saying "You've betrayed me, you unfaithful puppet! You ruined the story!"

But it turns out he'd made another contraption for story-spinning. When I saw it, I knew that this couldn't be good. That crazy old man laughed at my expression.

"My stories shall live once more. It may seem as if all has ended happily, but all that will change. I have engineered a complete tragedy! This time, I will not hesitate to kill. The finale is absolutely breathtaking. It took me a while to ensure maximum heartbreak, but once I remembered the rules I had set for the story...the choice was clear." He cackled. "Yet, unfortunately there is no place for you anymore. Away you must go."

Before us sprung an enormous bonfire, large enough to engulf me completely.

"This bonfire is no ordinary bonfire." Drosselmeyer chuckled, looking completely insane. "Even though you've already died, so to speak, your entire existence will be extinguished by these flames. These flames have been written so they are destined to take in a single soul and obliterate it. Afterwards, they will be of no harm. I guess you know what happens next, my little puppet."

Arrogant as he was, he didn't think I would rebel against him a second time. Instead of blindly walking into the flames, I turned and calmly stepped towards him.

"It's no good to plead with me." He said, thinking that I was going to beg for mercy.

I would never have done anything of the sort. So the flames ran into him. Instead, I seized his shoulders and pushed him with all of my might towards the bonfire.

His eyes bulged as he was consumed by the greedily yellow flames. The old storyteller didn't even have time to speak a single word before the bonfire disappeared, leaving nothing in its place.

"Come on, Uzura." I said to the little child who was watching with a confused expression.

"Are you and Drosselmeyer lovey-dovey, zura?" The little child asked.

"Not even close." I muttered.

I could move anywhere I pleased in your world, now that I was dead and thus free of my body. Because I am a puppet who took a life of her own, my soul could meander without constraint despite the fact that the body I had once been placed into was consumed by ashes. The bonfire, however, would have annihlated what was left of me. For a while, I left Uzura in Drosselmeyer's world as I wandered, but then we both came to reality.

Uzura has now been adopted by a woodworker. He's fascinated by her and treasures the little puppet dearly as a miracle of woodworking.

In fact, what you're seeing now is simply my projection. I saw that all of you had been accused of murder, and I couldn't help coming down to share in your company now that I'm a murderess as well.

But I have to say, I thought I was saving you all from Drosselmeyer's third attempt to create a tragedy. He had it coming. He had it coming, all along. He'd destroyed so many people's lives that it was only fitting.

How could you tell me that I was wrong?"