The Pheonix

"Call me Ishmael" the doll said, though its path had never led it to the ocean and it had little regard for water. It thought that it was clever even so, and Ishmael was a better name than the one its witch had given it when he stitched its wings.

Ish (which was what the other dolls called it, and which it held was because they had no flare for the dramatic) was a aeronaut aboard the great ⸢Remembrance of Her Unwilling Blessing⸥. A sky-ship one hundred and sixteen meters from bow to stern, with a wingspan thrice that! The culmination of a witch's craft, powered by banks of witchwork hearts driving it forward and pumping reality away with their every bone-shuddering beat! Vast and powerful, held together only through the unceasing effort of a dozen lobotomized witch-houses ...

It was a home which Ish had always though it could be truly proud of, from the moment that its eyes first saw it drifting so far above its first witch's sad little gravitybound home, ever since it realized what its wings were meant for.

There was only one fly in the ointment.

The ⸢Remembrance⸥'s captain—the witch who once tore open the sky to make herself a home in it, the hero of a dozen forgotten wars—was irretrievably mad.

Now, it is true that witches often cultivate madness. It is a source of power, a weapon to bend the world to their wills.

So understand me when I say that the ⸢Remembrance⸥'s captain, once called The All-Devouring Needle and now entitled Star of the Endless Sky, was stark raving mad and had been for countless decades before Ish's wings first bore it up to her ship's embroidered decks.

And understand me when I say that her madness was not the pleasing kind, nor the kind which draws exaltation; even her title was a cruel joke laid upon her by the unkind Fates.

It was—

Well, you know how this story goes, don't you?

So there's no need to name her obsession.