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My Many Lovely Daughters

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From the get-go, this new girl of clay is a handful. As soon as Faust tries to name her, she interrupts, demanding he pick a different one. Eventually, they settle on Elizabeth, Eliza for short, but even that doesn’t seem good enough for her. She just huffs and accepts it.

Eliza is a difficult one. As soon as he takes her to her room, right next to Delilah’s, she starts complaining about it. It’s too small, not fancy enough, too barren. He promises her that she can decorate it however she wants, which makes her settle down enough to stop arguing.

“If you go to sleep,” he tells her. “You can meet a new friend in the morning.”

“What kind of friend?”

“Her name is Delilah,” Faust says. “She’s a very sweet girl made of wood, in the same way that you’re made of clay.”

Eliza hums, considering. “Well, she better be interesting, or I’ll be cross,” she warns him.

“She is,” he assures her. “Now, head to bed.”

She huffs. “Alright, Dad.”

Again, with one of his creations viewing him as her father… “Good night, Eliza.” He heads to bed as well.

In the morning, the girls have found each other before he even woke up. As soon as he stirs, he can hear Eliza’s arguing all the way from his bedroom. He stumbles out of bed, following the sound of her voice. “Dad!” she says as soon as she sees him. “You didn’t tell me she was like this!” She points at Delilah, whose eyes are watering.

“What happened?” he asks, looking between them.

“I- why didn’t you tell me I had a new sister?” Delilah asks pitifully.

“It was late at night, I wasn’t going to wake you,” Faust tells her. “But, officially- Delilah, this is Elizabeth. Eliza, this is Delilah.”

Eliza gets in Delilah’s face, dripping bits of herself onto her by accident. Delilah scrunches her face up and brushes it off. “I’ve never had a sister,” Eliza says. Faust can’t help but think that she’s never had anything before, since she’s merely a homunculus. Still, somehow these creatures have awareness of the world as soon as they’re brought into it, inherently understanding the concept of family… it’s fascinating.

“N-neither have I,” Delilah tells her. “But… I’m your older sister.”

“Huh? Why can’t I be the older sister?” Eliza immediately protests.

“I’ve been around longer, I know our father more. And you look younger than me too.”

“But you’re a crybaby!” Eliza prods her. “You started crying as soon as you saw me!”

Delilah’s face turns green. …is she blushing? “That’s not fair- I was already upset, seeing someone new I didn’t know just made it worse…!”

“Girls,” Faust interrupts. “Stop this fighting. Eliza, Delilah is older, therefore she’s your ‘older sister’. Also, she’s naturally inclined to be depressed, in the same way that you’re inclined to be irritable. Do not insult her over that.”

Eliza groans and crosses her arms, acting the petulant child, but does not continue.

“…now, you two… would you two accompany me into town?”

“Into town?” Delilah asks incredulously. “Why?”

Faust isn’t sure how to explain it. He hasn’t told her about his missing memories, or his blood daughter. So… “I need supplies, and food, and to get things to repair the damaged bedrooms.”

“Are we going to have more sisters?” Eliza asks.

He pauses. “…I don’t know. Possibly.” Will they want more sisters? Honestly, he’s curious about what he can do with his homunculus summoning abilities. There must be a use for them, besides using them as comfort after the death of his daughter, right?

“Well… fine,” Eliza says after a few moments. “I want a younger sister, too.”

Delilah laughs quietly. “Of course you do.”

“Shut up, you don’t know me!”

“Girls, girls, again, no fighting,” Faust says. “Let’s just go.”

He leads the girls to town, but as soon as they arrive, a woman he doesn’t know but somehow recognizes as ‘the knife-seller’s wife’ stops them. She overlooks Eliza and Delilah, and requests to use one as an assistant, for payment, of course. Her husband has disappeared, and she works alone now, she explains to him. He does not care. Faust looks between his homunculi, but before he can decide yes or no, Delilah offers to do it.

“I want to be… useful,” she tells Faust. “Please, let me do this…”

He allows it, and the knife-seller’s wife rushes her into the store. Eliza huffs. “Offering to work… ridiculous.”

“It is her choice,” he tells her, and then leads her to where he believes the market is. He finds it immediately, and the old woman seems pleased to meet him, calling him ‘old friend’ and politely greeting Eliza. She offers him free balm, which will preserve a corpse. …does she know? If so, how? And… should he use this?

The shopkeeper also sends various ingredients to his home along with the balm, and tells him she’s glad to have him back- he’s good for business, after all. A little disturbed, he leaves her store and wanders around the town, hoping for a spark of memory. Eliza stays close to him, seemingly bothered. “Dad,” she says eventually, grabbing his arm. “Who was that woman?”

“The shopkeep,” he tells her. “She’s… a very nice woman.” He knows this in his heart, despite his discomfort speaking to her.

“How do you know her? And why does everyone who sees you seem to be surprised?”

“I’m… not sure.”

“How can you be not sure?” she demands to know.

Faust sighs. “A little before Delilah… came into my life, I woke up alone in my house, with no memory of… seemingly the past few years. I still have not recovered my memories.”

Eliza seems surprised. “So you don’t know everyone, but they know you?”

“Yes.”

She hums, looking thoughtful. It’s a foreign expression on her face. “Well-” Before she can finish her sentence, she’s interrupted by a large man coming towards them.

“You, Faust. I heard you were in back in town. Could you lend me one of your homunculi? I will pay well,” he insists.

Faust glances at Eliza before looking back at the man. “What would you need her for?”

“I still have my little gambling problem,” the man confesses. “But I only lose control when I’m alone at the store. My wife is on a trip for the next five days, and if all our money is gone when she returns, I’ll never hear the end of it. I need someone to stay in my store with me and stop me from gambling.”

“Can I yell at you?” Eliza asks immediately.

The man that Faust faintly recognizes as a ‘material seller’ seems surprised. “Well… if that’s what it takes to stop me.”

“I want to do it!” she tells Faust. “Let me go!”

“Well… alright,” Faust tells her.

While she and Delilah work, he visits them daily to make sure they’re doing alright. Delilah seems to struggle a bit, but she’s a hard worker, and the knife-seller’s wife is pleased with her efforts. She pays Faust a few gold per day, and he makes a note of what Delilah has earned. He needs some of the money to keep himself fed, but the rest goes to buying her a gift- a sweet ice cream treat that the old woman at the store assures him she’ll love. Eliza earns far more at the job she adores, and while he puts some aside for his food and some for a chocolate bar for her, he keeps the rest separate to afford however she wants to decorate her room.

At the end of the week, he takes the girls home and finds the items the shopkeep delivered to him. He stores them in Arhea’s room before returning to his creations. They sit at the table, waiting patiently (in Delilah’s case) and impatiently (in Eliza’s) for the gifts he promised them. Faust sets the treats down in front of them. Eliza’s eyes light up. “Ah! You know exactly what I like! Good job, Dad!” She starts to devour it immediately.

“….thank you, Father,” Delilah says, eyes watering again. It seems to be from happiness this time. “I feel so happy from your astonishing gift.” She eats her ice cream a little slower.

Faust watches them eat, feeling… odd. These girls are very… they remind him of Arhea, despite not being like her at all. The Arhea he remembers was so young, so joyful, as compared to sad Delilah and angry Eliza, and yet he feels the same way towards his creations as he did to her. Does he see them as daughters? Can he see them as daughters?

While they continue eating, he returns to his room. Faust looks through the things the shopkeep gave him- the balm. He doesn’t need to use that yet, if he chooses to. Wood. Poor quality, from the local forest. Clay, also low quality. Meat, which smells disgusting. He would only eat it if he really had to. Separately, it’s not useful, but together, it’s enough ingredients to make a new homunculus. Does the shopkeep know alchemy, he wonders? Or, if they truly are ‘old friends’, did he once tell her what he needs to make a new creation?

Either way, it’s clear that these items were given to him specifically to make a homunculus. He sets them on the circle, and gets to work.