• The gang was at its usual hangout spot, having fun and enjoying each other's company when Keto asked a curious question.
    "Say, Voodoo, I've been adding weight to my stomach lately, and… well, you all know how lazy I am so working out is not an option. So I was thinking, with those powers of yours, can't you make a doll of me and then take out some stuffing in the stomach? Would that work?"
    Everyone burst out laughing, but stopped at the same time and looked to Voodoo; they were eager to find out the answer as well.
    "Well, I suppose, in theory, that could work. But then you also run the chance of losing a few things – maybe a few organs, your intestines perhaps…"
    There was an echo of laughter once again.
    "I still don't know why you're here with the rest of us, with all the powers you have. If I were in your shoes, I'd be out there doing something cool."
    "Trust me, I've had my share of the outside world, and I would have become something else if Horace hadn't saved me."
    "How did he do that, exactly?"
    "Well, for you to understand, we have to go back in time."
    Keto geared up in excitement.
    "Great! I love stories."
    But Voodoo shook his head and laughed as he did so.
    "No, not like you'd expect. We're going to make use of a flashback."
    "Whatever, as long as it doesn't suck the fun out of it."
    "I don't think it will. Alright, here we go."

    ***MANY YEARS AGO***
    There was a man named Houngan. He used to be a trader who sold rare but inexpensive items in a small town close to Hartwood. Most of what he traded in was available in surplus in distant towns, which meant Houngan had to embark on long journeys to get some of these things to buy and bring over to his town to sell. On one of such trips, he had found a doll-like creature abandoned in a pile of junk. At first, Houngan thought it was a doll because of how dirty it was, and also because none of the people who passed by had so much as stared at it, but a closer look revealed otherwise. Shocked by this discovery, Houngan decided to help the little creature; he had a son back home himself who was also still an infant and he could not imagine how he would feel if that was his son lying in a pile of dirt. But as he reached out to pick up the creature, he was pulled away from behind. Turning around, Houngan saw an old lady who gave him a stern look.
    "Excuse me, ma'am."
    He tried to move away towards the infant but the old lady pulled him back again.
    "What are you trying to do, Mister?"
    Houngan was perplexed.
    "What? Can't you see this poor thing left to rot with the garbage? He needs help, and I'm going to help him. Now, if you don't mind..."
    "Did you stop to consider, for a moment, the reason why, of all the people around, no one has stopped to help him?"
    Houngan paused; he hadn't thought of that. After a brief moment, he replied the old lady.
    "Well, I would imagine it's because you all lack empathy and compassion."
    The old woman smiled wryly, pulled Houngan closer to herself, and spoke in a low tone.
    "That thing you want to help is the last living member of a very powerful family. They are known as the Voodoo clan around here, and every one of them could get into your head, control you, make you do things you'd never do."
    "You mean sorcerers?"
    "Not quite, it's different in some ways."
    Houngan was surprised.
    "I've never heard of this so-called voodoo before."
    The old lady nodded in agreement.
    "Neither had we until they came – a couple and their little son. When they came to town, they were so sweet and warm; they used their powers to help everyone, even without asking. In return, we opened our hearts and our homes to them. Before anyone knew it, they were in control of the town, and thus began their reign of tyranny.
    "Yes, tyranny. We lived to fulfill their wishes; we existed to serve them and anyone who dared oppose them was severely punished. The outside world was oblivious to this, as the Voodoo clan was very meticulous - the head of the family even became Mayor of the town. Then one day, three officials from the Ministry of Sorcery came here to investigate. It turned out someone had written to the Ministry, informing them about the Voodoo clan requesting help."
    "So what happened?"
    "They managed to control the officials who ended up announcing that the accusations were baseless. After they left, the Voodoo clan located the one who wrote to the Ministry and made him commit suicide as a lesson to others."

  • Houngan could only shake his head in sympathy. The old lady went on.
    "There was an uproar, and people rose against them. I guess they didn't escape because they felt they could handle the situation. Before long, the people stormed their residence, and, after a while, they were able to subdue them. They tried to kill them by shooting them and even cutting off their head, but none worked; they would just sew themselves back up if allowed. Eventually, it was decided that the whole house be burnt down along with them in it, and that did the trick. The only thing we heard was their screams of agony and pain. They did burn like rag-dolls."
    The old lady laughed before she continued.
    "After the dust settled, it was discovered that only that infant survived the fire; his parents and elder brother must've found a small opening that was enough to slip him out through. He had to die, but nobody had the heart to kill him, which was why he was left there to rot and die."

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