Chapter Two

Florence.

The two of them arrived into the city without any trouble at all. Outside of Lucia's residence, they met Blanca lying outside, who greeted them with a wide smile.

"Hey there Blanca," Gepetto said as the wolf wagged his tail at he and Karin. Karin gave him a pet and knocked on the door.

"Gepetto!" Anastasia's voice broke through the door before Kurando got the chance to open it.

"Hello again!" Kurando said with a smile. Blanca went back inside as they let in Karin and Gepetto.

Lucia brought out some coffee for everyone, setting on a table before coming to greet them.

"Karin! I'm so glad you're safe," Lucia said. "I got worried when Gepetto said he just found you in his last letter." Gepetto set Cornelia on an end table next to where he sat down. Anastasia still clung to Kurando, seemingly anxious.

"I thought bringing her here would be a good thing," he said.

Lucia nodded. "I'm so sorry about Yuri. We all miss him."

"I know, I just thought I'd get to see him, one last time," Karin said, finding her way to a sofa to sit down. "I wonder where he went…"

Blanca's paw came up to rest on her leg.

"I'm sure it will be okay," Kurando said. "It's been strange, trying to figure everything out, you know?"

"Yes, it's been a learning experience shall we say," Gepetto said.

"Speaking of which, Gepetto," Karin said, turning to him. "I wished very hard for Yuri to still be in this world with us. Didn't you wish for your daughter to return too?"

"I did," Gepetto replied. "She hasn't turned up yet. I've been looking for her," Gepetto replied. "I didn't pray for things to just fall into my lap. I simply prayed that she could be with me again, without a horrible sickness."

"It has to be her, Lucia, Kurando! It has to be!" Anastasia blurted out. "I'm positive now."

"What was that?"

"Your daughter, Cornelia," the princess said, pointing to the doll. "She looks like that right?"

Gepetto nodded.

"There have been rumors going on about a doll maker capturing spirits of little girls and turning them into dolls. According to papers, someone's been kidnapping orphans and other girls alike. One of the dolls was in yesterday's paper." Kurando handed Gepetto a newspaper. He straightened his glasses.

"Oh my goodness, that looks just like the girl in the next photo!" he exclaimed.

"We know," Lucia said with a sigh. "She was found dead on the streets and the doll was taken by an investigation team of the doll maker's house. Apparently, he highly protested, saying it was just a coincidence."

"That sounds awful! What does this have to do with Cornelia?"

"Well, you see I met this girl few days ago. When we got here, she was walking all by herself out of a gift store. I asked her what she was doing and she told me that her father used to make lots dolls for her and that the shop reminded her of him. She was looking for him, and she told me that someone told her of a doll maker in Germany that knew everything about dolls, and that he could make anything.

"So I asked her why she wanted to see him so bad, and she said 'I want to ask about my father.' And then she gave me this lovely ribbon. We hung out all afternoon!" Anastasia pulled a ribbon from her pocket.

"She was so nice, but I didn't want to stop her from her journey. I didn't know if it was even possible she could even be Cornelia."

Gepetto looked closely at the ribbon, recognizing it as the same one he tied into his doll Cornelia's hair at one point in time. He still had that ribbon at his apartment.

"That is Cornelia's! Where is she now? Where is the doll maker's house?" he stood up so suddenly, his back almost gave out.

"We don't know," Lucia shook her head. "Investigators found that he abandoned his house here in Florence where he was making the dolls. I hope he's not the same doll maker in east now."

"I must go after her!" Gepetto exclaimed. "I need to know if it's her! What if it is her? What does this doll maker do?"

"They say his dolls are so realistic that they seem to come to life, and if her soul is stuck in one of those dolls, I don't know," Kurando said.

"Will you all come with me?" Gepetto asked. Blanca barked, sniffing at the ribbon in Anastasia's hands. He barked, siding with the puppeteer.

"I'll come with you!" the princess exclaimed.

"Sure," Karin agreed.

"I could go for one more adventure," Lucia agreed. Kurando nodded.