I was cursed because I stole a doll.
I was young. I was covetous.
My first dog’s name was Alfalpha. He was too good to me, as dogs often are. I used to pick and pull at him but he always took it in stride, waiting for another adventure. He was my companion on the long expeditions that took me outside my home for the first time in my few years.
I took the doll with me.
A HUMAN? THAT DOESN’T SEEM QUITE YOUR STYLE.
The doll was crudely fashioned, clearly not a craft of Men. Trolls could not create the mastercrafts of other races, not that it slowed them much when wielding a weapon. I’d not returned the toy as much out of fear as greed. I had played the scene out in my mind on more than one occasion wherein the girl’s father showed up to greet me instead. I imagined he’d not hesitate too long before brandishing arms against a young dwarf.
IT’S NOT MINE.
“IT’S NOT MINE”; WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S NOT YOURS?
I’VE BEEN HOLDING ON TO IT FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS.
SOMEONE GAVE IT TO YOU?
I NEVER RETURNED IT TO THE GIRL WHO GAVE IT TO ME.
AND NOW YOU’VE HAD IT TOO LONG TO RETURN IT TO HER?
It was an embarrassing truth. I gathered my courage.
SHE LEFT. SHE WAS ONE OF THE –
But I knew as soon as he’d laid eyes on the doll that I knew he knew what I was.
Regardless of how reasonable my excuses, they were still just that. Even among the most avaricious, there is a code of honor.
Or at least, there was for him.
Some things do not change in the transmission from one hand to another. A gold coin is meant to be tendered; it does not melt to the touch. But a doll is not like this; its entire value is extrinsic. It was the sort of acquisition that was looked down upon in our society. A theft that could not be vendored.
The exact nature of the curse was not known to me – it is often impossible to know such things – but it seemed from that moment on, nothing ever went quite right for me.