Waking Up

Alice dreamed a dream.

A dream of the planet she once called home.

“Do you know what it’s like to see the end of the woArld? Shall I show you?”

That was the last thing he said. The last thing he said before the Earth collapsed inward, disappearing from its place in the universe. Alice often had this dream, but there was something odd about it this time. Usually the dream ended with the destruction of Earth. With her and other wanderers escaping to far off worlds, as memories of the planet flew off in all directions, slowly coalescing into magic stones. Yet this time, the dream continued. As she looked upon her dying world, Alice felt two great desires warring within her. One felt light and hopeful, it was the desire to restore Earth so that she might see her friends again. The other felt heavy and angry, it was the desire to exact revenge on he who had so callously taken from her, all that she loved. At first, both desires felt equal, but before long the hatred and desire to kill those who had wronged her threatened to overtake all else. Alice shuddered as she felt the shadow within her quickly moving to consume her entirely. However, Alice held on to the hope that she might yet save her world, rejecting the hatred. When light and shadow split, what sort of being is left in their wake?

“Wake up~, wake up~”

From outside the realm of dreams and memories, a soft and lilting voice called out to Alice. When the wanderer regained her senses, she felt the cold, unmistakable feeling of water saturating her clothes. She must have landed in some nearby lake, her legs were still floating on the surface of the clear waters, and floated to the banks as she slept. She felt something clutched in her right hand, and looked over to see what had brought her here; Excalibur, the blade which Faria had to entrusted to Alice.

“Wake up~, wake up~”

“Faria...”

The girl felt her heart sink as low as her stomach as she recalled what had happened. She had failed to protect her friends...again. The dark Alice, the death of the kings, Valentina’s betrayal, Faria’s last request...too much had happened in too little time.

“Hear us~, hear us~”

“I’ve always done everything I could...I was always so certain about what the right move was...Now...what can I possible do..."

“Don’t ignore us~, don’t ignore us~”

“Hey! Weird voices! I’ve had enough surprises today, alright? Knock it off!”

“Above~, above~”

Alice sat up, her body aching as she did so, and she looked up over the lake. Small fairies, radiating a soothing light, were fluttering about above the water. Alice blinked several times and rubbed her eyes to be sure the creatures weren’t an illusion.

“How strange~, how strange~”

“From where I’m sitting you seem like the strange ones. Might you be able to tell me where I am?”

“Wait~, wait~”

“We’ll call her~, we'll call her~” With that, the fairies flew away towards the middle of the lake.

“Someone who understands how to have a proper conversation would be nice.” Alice stood up, and with a minor cantrip, dried her clothes. She planted the blade of Excalibur in the earth, using it to hold herself up as her body was still recovering from her encounter with her dark counterpart. As she waited for the fairies to return, she was suddenly reminded of Wonderland.

“I suppose they’d fit in right at home there. Everyone was bad at speaking plainly there too. I’ll have to mention that to Faria’s sister…” Alice muttered to herself.

“We called her~, we called her~” The fairies came fluttering back, darting about the air excitedly. In the middle of the group was a fairy that Alice immediately recognized as different from the others. When this fairy’s eyes fell upon Alice and Excalibur, a welcoming smile spread across her face. Alice made an effort to stand on her own as the creature drew closer.

“I am Viviane. You must be Alice, correct?”

“You know me? Can you tell me where I am?”

“This is Mythe Alora, the home of the fairies. I believe the humans refer to it as the ‘Fabled Lake’. It was here, some time ago, that I granted the sacred blade you now hold, to Faria. Since then the weapon has ever been linked to Faria’s will, and to me as well. She has bade me to entrust the sword, and her power, to you.”

“Faria...”

“It is not something I sought out to become, but fate has deemed it such that I am often a guide to the heroes of this world. As such I shall once again entrust this sword to one who bears the heavy mantle of ‘hero’. This blade is shaped by the will and power of the one who wields it. Faria desired to protect her nation, and so Excalibur fashioned itself into a tool of that desire. So, Alice, what is it that you desire?”

“...Because of my own weakness and fear, I was once torn apart as two beings. Now, the other me poses a great threat to this world and must be stopped.” Alice paused for a moment.

“But I also think she deserves to be saved. She desires revenge above all else and I fear she has become fearful and hateful of all things, falling into the darkness she wants to defeat.”

“I see. If that is your wish, then take hold of your sword.”

As Viviane instructed, Alice reached out towards the sacred blade. As she clenched the hilt the sword suddenly sprang up into the air, hanging as if suspended. A powerful radiance enveloped the blade as it assumed a new shape. Alice could feel a strange new power flowing into herself as well.

“Was this power also part of Faria’s will?”

“Faria did entrust her power to you, but it is not by her strength alone. You have long held unseen power within yourself, and Faria requested we guide you and awaken this new power. In the defense of our world, you shall forever add our power to your own.”

“With this, there still might be a chance! I’ve got a score to settle with myself.”

“Very well, then we shall accompany you.” with a motion of her hand, Viviane called the attention of the other fairies.

“Everyone, we’ll be heading out so you’ll need to prepare.”

“Heading out~, heading out~”

“Preparation~, preparation~”

Alice’s new power seemed to be connected to more than just the fae. As she called out with her magic to her friends from Wonderland, they too seemed to be influenced. The Mad Hatter, March Hare, and the Dormouse appeared at Alice’s side, all looking somewhat more dashing than they previously had.

“Lady Alice, surely you have not forgotten us have you?”

“That’s right. The way ahead is more dangerous than it ever has been. You’ll be needing our help.”

“This is no time for napping!”

Alice smiled at the return of her friends. If her new found power was strong enough to summon them from other worlds, perhaps her chances of success were better than she had thought. “I appreciate the kind words, but when did you three become so dependable?”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The World of the Seven Kings


Part 6 The Twilight Wanderer