The flail was pretty weaksauce (the immobile plastic "chain" ensured that it was just a really lame mace, but what do you expect for five bucks?), and there was a tiny bow that might have been part of a crossbow, but God knows how it was all supposed to go together; I'm still trying to figure it out. I gave Lyra the dagger (with belt and sheath) for sentimental reasons I wasn't entirely comfortable telling her--I mean, since there will very likely never be a Subtle Knife movie, there could hardly be a Will Parry doll. And yet... I wanted her to have it, even if only I knew why. Besides, it fit her perfectly. Anna was definitely pleased, because it meant she could continue teaching Lyra self-defense without having to borrow Fug's knife. As for Anna herself, I gave her the mace as a reward for good behavior, or at least a strong attempt at self-restraint. She's spent a lot of time pacing and glowering in The Littlest Edward's general direction, but I did get her to ditch that dumbass tinhat and the formal toothpicks, and the Iorekian Truce has lasted. You know. So far. As for arming Anna being a bad idea, well--she's already got a sword, a pistol and a dagger; I don't really see what harm one more weapon could do.
(Her first instinct was to run off and show Elizabeth her new toy, but then she stopped--their eyes met across the room, awkwardly--and she turned away. I wasn't even sure if they even remembered what they were fighting about by this time--I resolved then to have a talk with Elizabeth, but that's a story for another time.)
The real attraction of the set for me, however, was that it came with a fairly decent sword and shield. Obviously, these were for Eowyn, who had been longing for a sword of her own lo these many years, and had been making do with Fug's (which, of course, meant that he was often without one, but back in the days when he was the only man on The Shelf, he was happy to hand one over in hopes she'd leave the other alone, if you catch my drift). I was hoping that arming her properly would recall Eowyn to her old shieldmaidenly self, which, in turn, might help her get
"I know black's not really your color," I said, "but try these out until I get you something better."
The shield fit her arm perfectly. She sliced the late afternoon sunlight and smiled.
And of course, The Littlest Edward. He'd already gotten some presents from y'all on Saturday, but what I was about to give him was for my good as much as his--possibly the entire Shelf's. I'm running out of things to keep him occupied--like I said before, he reminds me of a border collie that really, really needs a "job" of some kind so he doesn't go crazy in his little pen. So while I was cleaning my closet the other day (this is a Herculean task that will take days to finish, by the way. But I made a good start), I saw this:
And I knew then that he had to have it.
"Edward!" I said brightly. "How would you like a job!"
"Well, hard work is the American way," he said. "I'm always happy to earn my keep any way I can."
"Well! Have I got something for you."
So I took him out into the hall.
"Open it!" I said.
He took one look and turned back to me. "You can't be serious."
"I am very, very serious. This is important work."
"You can't be--I don't want to open this."
"FINE." I lifted the latch myself.
The ponies ambled out, neighing softly.
He lifted his goldenamberscotch eyes woefully to mine. "You're punishing me, aren't you? I wondered why you never punished me for what happened with the bear. Now I know. You were just waiting until you found something terrible enough."
I guess Anna had gotten suspicious when we left the room--perhaps jealous, even, that his "present" might be better than hers--because, before I could say anything else, a gasp just then alerted us to her presence in the doorway.
"Everything is forgiven," said Anna, horror writ wide across her face. "No one--no one should be condemned to this."
"Oh, come on! Forgiven? You don't really mean that."
"Well, no," she said. "But it's pretty horrific. In a really satisfying way." Moondancer tried to nuzzle her. "DON'T TOUCH ME, FREAK."
"PONIES!" squealed Purple Arwen, who had also gotten curious.
"Edward's going to be taking care of them!" I said, with the kind of enthusiasm only kindergarten teachers usually muster. "It's his job now! His permanent employment."
"I am no longer a man," he said, staring at the ponies frolicking before him. "I'm in hell. This is hell, and I'm in it."
"What am I even supposed to do with them?"
"Well, you can groom them. They've been in my closet a long time, they could probably use a good scrub with some Windex, a good mane-and-tail combing... and they'll need exercise. You can... herd them, or whatever. I'll get you some grass to feed them and everything. And you'll definitely have to build some kind of pen for them. I don't want you chasing them up and down the stairs."
He looked up at me beseechingly, but said nothing; then his head sank down again. He sighed.
"I don't care if you suffer the torments of the damned, you are going to take care of these ponies and you are not going to slack off, okay? These are VINTAGE PONIES. This one is from 1985," I said, pointing to the date on the bottom of Gingerbread's hoof (she gave a panicked little upside-down neigh).
"That one's my favorite!"
"And most of these are even older. Cotton Candy, that's one of the original six ponies from 1982. I am friends with people younger than that. I saved up five dollars' worth of pennies in a Ziploc bag for her--the salesgirl actually had to count them out on the counter--when I was four years old. And Butterscotch was the very first pony I ever owned--my grandmother gave her to me."
"Butterscotch?" he said. "Like the color of my eyes?"
(More from the Secret Life of Dolls; fan community)