A blacksmith was operating a bellows, rhythmically furnishing air into the forge. The flame gradually grew red; it was the appropriate heat the blacksmith wanted. He picked a piece of iron with his tongs, and put it into the forge. Coals were crackling, and the iron piece turned red — it was time to start forging the shape.
Holding the tongs in his left hand, the blacksmith worked the red-hot iron with a hand hammer. The resonant sound of hammering awoke the girl in the back room.
Girl: Daddy, the sky’s still dark. What’re you doing so early?
Blacksmith: You’ll know when it’s finished.
Pieces of iron were forged into different shapes. Some looked like external covers, and some had cogs on the edges, palpably internal parts of a machine. When all the components were finished, the blacksmith combined all of them; the product gradually took shape.
Blacksmith: So, we’re done.
Girl: Wow! It’s a wind-up toy!
Blacksmith: Haven’t you always wanted a toy?
Blacksmith: But daddy’s poor to buy a toy, so I made you this out of the surplus material after forging a sword. Do you like it?
Girl: I like it! Thanks, daddy!
Filled with joy, the girl immediately played with the iron toy. But not long after, she had an idea for the name of the toy, so she returned to her father, and asked him to carve its name on its bottom — Hamel.
The blacksmith forged weapons for the country. One of which became the general’s sword, and had once saved his life. This piece of news promptly spread the sword’s fame; it was not until then did people notice that this blacksmith’s swords were sharper and more durable compared to the others.
Therefore, the blacksmith gradually climbed the ladder of success, and became the most famous blacksmith in the country. Many aristocrats seeked him for swords, bringing wealth to his family.
As the family became rich, the girl entered a school for aristocrats, and developed friendship with other rich children. Once, she invited her friends to play at her house, inadvertently leaving them with a chance to see Hamel. It was a toy created by the blacksmith back when they were poor; the aristocratic children could tell with a mere glance that it was not anything expensive. They could not understand why the girl possessed a toy like this.
Aristocratic Child: Ugh! What’s this? It’s ragged, why don’t you throw it away?
Girl: Y...You know nothing! This’s a famous piece of art! The raggedness is part of its value!
Aristocratic Child: Really? It’s interesting! Do you still want it? If not, can you give it to me?
With the thought that she was now rich enough to buy as many new toys as she wanted, the girl did not hesitate much to give Hamel to the child. However, the fondness for novelty was deeply rooted in Humans; the rusty Hamel was handed over to various owners and families in a short while...
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Who will it be this time?
Since toys are objects without sentiments, they are always arbitrarily abandoned by Humans. Ragged or outdated, the slightest imperfection means the fate of being abandoned. Toys never have a choice — Hamel had thought like this all along.
Nesting Doll - Matryoshka: Even toys can have their own choice.
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Toys are always under Humans’ control. Even though we now possess our own lives, there is still someone controlling us.
Nesting Doll - Matryoshka: We now have power, and we have our consciousness. Of course we can make our own choices.
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Whatever. I don’t have the time for this. I still have to execute Her Ladyship’s order, and receive our new companion.
Hamel arrived at her destination, but it had turned into a dreary town. Buildings collapsed, rubble abounded, and many wounded were painfully moaning. Although Hamel was curious about what had happened, she kept her focus on seeking the new companion, deeming Humans’ suffering none of her business.
But to her surprise, the culprit for the destruction of the city was her new companion — Morris the Teddy Bear. It was ferociously wielding its bat at the fleeing Humans.
Enlarged to the size of a Human, Morris neared the escapers with ease. Blood gushed from the victims, splashing all over Morris, but Hamel merely stood aside and quietly watched.^ After confirming each other’s identity, Hamel asked Morris the reason behind its destruction...
Morris the Teddy Bear: Nothing special. I just can’t bear watching Humans arbitrarily abandoning toys...abandoning us!
Emotions surged as Morris spoke. Again, it started wielding its bat, destroying the constructions around it. Hamel was almost caught in its attack.
Morris the Teddy Bear: We now have the power granted by Her Ladyship! Mere Humans can’t endure even one strike! Ahahaha!
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Hm...I suggest you better hold back a little, or the one who bleeds, ah, who loses all the stuffing would be you.
Morris the Teddy Bear: What do you mean?
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Lady Woodbury doesn’t like her home being messed up.
As Hamel spent more time with Morris, she found that Morris would lose control of its emotions whenever they talked about Humans. From its berserk swings of bat, Hamel could assume that it had probably experienced unpleasantness with Humans. However, as Hamel watched it doing everything at will with Her Ladyship’s power, she suddenly felt her thought of “we’re useless because we’re toys” was silly.
Toys now possessed power. Just like what Matryoshka had said: we also have a choice now. Power had lifted the toys’ status to a place higher than Humans, so Morris could easily destroy a city. Even though they were still under Lady Woodbury, they had already surpassed mere Humans.
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Power determines our status. I don’t need to bother myself thinking I’m just a toy, because Her Ladyship has granted me power!
Knight Iron Alpaca: Report. The entrance to Wonderland is just a mile ahead, in a hole on a fir tree.
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Excellent. Everyone, be careful! We don’t know if they have prepared ambush on the way.
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: Hehe. She doesn’t need to.
Woodbury’s expression looked unusual today. She had always been amiable to a certain extent, but her smile now was exuding nothing but horror.^ Hamel’s troop found the entrance to Wonderland a few days ago; Woodbury immediately ordered the toys to advance towards Wonderland.
Hamel had thought how wondrous Wonderland would be, but it turned out to be just the same as the realm of Humans. The forests appeared similar; only the mushrooms were slightly oversized. As the army was finding their way, they suddenly noticed that the edge of Wonderland was near. The view around the edge was distorting, as if the whole world was vanishing along the edge...
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: Darn! This is not Wonderland!
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: But we indeed —
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: This is only “a small part” of Wonderland which “used to be” here!
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: Probably they had noticed that we’ve found the entrance, so they separated this little portion from Wonderland, and retained it here to deceive us.
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: The true entrance must now be somewhere else!
Wind-up Toy - Iron Hamel: Who would have done that?
Before Hamel could receive an answer, “Wonderland” was vanishing fast, almost engulfing the toy army. They managed to escape “Wonderland” through the tree hole before they were trapped inside forever. When “Wonderland” diminished to fist-size, a voice rang from within: “It’s not time yet...”
Woodbury recognized to whom the voice belonged, and subconsciously clenched her jaws. Such an expression so rare on her face had taken Hamel’s courage away to ask her question.
Elf Summoner - Princess Woodbury: Alice! I will make you suffer!