Song I listened to for this chapter: All This Time by OneRepublic
Mirana stands there watching everyone getting ready to head out. Hearing hooves on the cobblestones, she looks up to see David and Alice up on Xavier with Aneesa following behind them. She smiles, happy that Xavier is the one companion meant for David and that Aneesa found her companion. It had been foretold that the two horses would be instrumental in the defense of Wonderland. Then Mirana bites her lower lip, wondering why Alice is mounted on Xavier in front of David. Deciding that she is curious enough to go and find out, she moves with her normal airy grace towards the two who are conversing quietly.
Hatter looks up to see Mirana making her way to them. He tightens his arms around Alice to warn her though their bond also serves to let her know. Hatter greets the woman who he feels is like an aunt to him, curious as to what she is needing. “Mirana! How can we help you today?”
Mirana graciously nods her head to the King and Queen of the Kingdom of the Knights. She smiles, thinking about how fitting for these two to be the rulers of that particular Kingdom. Alice, with her skills in chess and her ability to think through to the end game, is well suited as a queen of the Chess Kingdom. Her Mate is a knight and king. He will protect his Queen with all of his powers, but allow her to protect him at the same time. He is also more able to rule the kingdom than either of his parents would have been. They would have merely been placeholders until now. Overall, even with all the sorrow and pain that everyone has gone through, it is better that David finished growing up in the Red Kingdom. The Kingdom of the Knights is supposed to be a combination of the two Kingdoms to allow people to have a choice of where to live that will satisfy their needs. David knows both Kingdoms well, growing up in one and living in the other for centuries. Alice has more love and compassion in her than anyone she has ever seen. These two are so well suited to their kingdom and to the future of Wonderland.
Mirana shakes her head, looks up at the two and asks, “Alice, why are you riding with David? I take it Aneesa accepted you…”
Alice smiles down at the White Queen and tells her softly, “I am not as sure on a horse yet. Aneesa has graciously agreed to bear with me and teach me how to ride. But Hatter and I need to talk, and this way is easier for both of us.” She feels Hatter’s love for her course through the Bond. They do need to talk; Hatter and the horses have been quietly talking to her and teaching her about Wonderland. Both Wonderland and the Kingdom are putting their two cents in as well.
Alice is actually hiding her shock that the Kingdom of the Knights is different from the other two Kingdoms. The White Kingdom itself so rarely talked that no one is sure she can anymore. The Red Kingdom is asleep.
The Kingdom of the Knights is young, and is the most in touch with Wonderland, especially since Wonderland created her to be a vocal part of the Kingdoms. The Red King was never meant to be the King of the Kingdom of the Knights, but he did an excellent job of doing what he could. He helped make it a kingdom of might. Nevertheless, the Queen of Hearts reaction to the first Alice coming back was beyond what anyone, including Wonderland, could anticipate.
Hatter and Alice are both shocked when that tidbit just drops in their head and cannot hide their reaction. “What?!?!?!?!”
Mirana jumps and asks, “What is wrong?”
Looking down at Mirana, Hatter tells her, “Wonderland just told us something completely unexpected.”
At that time, Absolem appears and lands on Alice’s shoulder. He caresses a wing across her face and asks kindly, one might even say lovingly if it wasn’t Absolem. “How are you today, Cherished and Beloved?”
Alice smiles down at him and answers, “I am doing fine, Absolem. Thanks for asking. Now, what do you know of what Wonderland just told us?”
Hatter smiles down at his Mate and Absolem in front of him. He can sense her amusement and fondness for the Keeper of the Oraculum. He sends a burst of love down the Bond and feels it return, in spades.
Absolem sighs and tells them all, “Wonderland does not dictate her people’s lives. Even the Oraculum does not foretell all of our lives. I have tried to tell everyone that it only shows the important dates in the future, but these stupid people ignore me and tell themselves that it foretells every day. As long as Wonderland has and will be around, the scroll would be too big for anyone to handle!” Absolem’s voice warns them that he is even more irritated than normal.
Alice smiles and feels the question from Hatter from the Bond. She answers him, “I’ve never liked knowing my entire life is already mapped out. There’s just something wrong with that. What surprises could there be in any world with an all-knowing foretelling scroll of paper; the inherent repercussions of the bad guys taking it and so on. But knowing it just foretells certain events is much better.”
Absolem chuckles to himself. If only Alice knew that, she is some of those certain events and is predominately in the Oraculum. She and David are meant to correct many matters here in Wonderland and with what is coming up, the Oraculum is pretty graphic on these matters. “The Oraculum is much better hidden now because of exactly that and the fact that Iracebeth actually managed to get her hands on the scroll.”
“Hatter, what did they tell you?” Mirana asks, attempting to bring the topic back to whatever had surprised the two.
Hatter answers her, “Wonderland, the Kingdom, and the three of us were teaching Alice the history of Wonderland. Alice was being told about the bonds with the Kingdoms and how they differ from each other. We had gotten to the part of our kingdom and how it is different from the others. It is more active in its ruler’s lives and it was made with the intention to be a buffer between the other two kingdoms.”
He takes a breath and then informs her, “But then Wonderland and the Kingdom were telling her that the Red King was a caretaker for the Kingdom and was working on making it a kingdom of might. But when the Queen of Hearts attacked, nobody knew it was coming, not even Wonderland.”
Mirana gasps in shock. She turns quickly to Absolem to confirm this.
Absolem looks at all the eyes turned to him and then turns to welcome Alice K. and Tarrant to the group. They have come to wish Hatter and Alice good luck. Alice became very curious when she saw the group gathered around. Chess and Santi also walk up to see what is going on. Chess came because of his natural curiosity, Santi because of the look on his liege’s faces.
When Absolem observes that everyone is gathered around, he takes a deep breath, brushes a wing across Alice’s face to reassure her…and him? then enlightens them, again. “The Oraculum did not show anything regarding the Red Queen’s attack. If it had, I would have warned you all. After the attack is when it showed Alice Hamilton coming to save Wonderland. That is also when it showed David going to the Kingdom of Hearts, becoming who he did. It showed these two meeting and then showed that they were the predicted rulers of the Kingdom of the Knights. It also shows you making it to the Kingdom of the Knights. Moreover, working on your Kingdom. But then it refuses to show anymore.”
Pandemonium reigns as everyone tries to talk at once. Then a shrill whistle makes them all stop and turn towards the man who had called them to order. Hatter uncovers his love’s ears and tells them, “It does no good to make a scene. Especially now with everyone gathered watching us. So, we either need to calm down to discuss this or head to a more private place.” He had to do something. They were all overreacting according to his Alice’s emotions.
Closing her eyes, Alice regains her calm and then declares to them all. “I think you rely too much on the scroll. I know you have relied upon it for many years – more years than I can even comprehend – but there is nothing that is concrete in life. We are now finding out that the future of Wonderland was changed by one person’s need for revenge. Absolem, did the scroll show the future of Wonderland before the attack and then erased it, or did it never show that future at all?”
Absolem ponders her question and honestly answers, “I am not sure now that I think about it. We had all gotten complacent about Wonderland and I was not checking it. I have a special connection that it shows me if there is trouble coming ahead. The last time I had checked it is when David was born. We were confirming that Alice and he were going to be fine through the pregnancy and delivery. When Alice would have come back for him and Tarrant, we were going to do the normal checking of his future.”
Alice frowns and asks, “Checking of his future?”
Absolem flutters his wing on her cheek and inquiries of her, “You know children are rare in Wonderland?” When she nods he continues, “It is normal practice to look ahead and see if that child is supposed to have any special training and try to ascertain his talents to make sure he will have the opportunity to learn them. This goes double for a royal. What affects them often affects the lands.”
Alice sighs. The Bond between them positively vibrated with Hatter’s love and support for her, showing his concern with the feelings that are coming from her through their Bond. She is confused and a little angry. With the new revelations coming at her, it is beginning to feel as if her free will is being taken away from her.
Wonderland and the Kingdom of the Knights speak up then and try to explain to her that they are never trying to take away anyone’s free will – especially hers. She cannot complete what she needs to do if her free will is taken away. Moreover, Hatter is in the same boat. They both need their free will to complete the trials in front of them, just as they needed their free will to complete the ones they had just passed. Would it make any difference if she found out now that the events that they have already gone through had been predicted? Would it have really changed her actions, thoughts, or the outcome? That is all it shows, what the outcome is, not what is in the people’s hearts or minds. Often that is what is more important.
Alice sags against Hatter, trusting that he will support her and tries to think. If what the Kingdom and Wonderland is telling her is right, that means the scroll only shows the outcome. Then she asks, “When it showed Alice on Frabjous Day, what did it show?”
Sensing that this is important, Absolem calls the scroll to him and has it land in Chess’s paws. Chess knows how important the scroll is and will make sure no one can take it. Chess sinks in the air momentarily when the scroll appears. Then he floats closer as the group closes in around him, protecting them both. Chess looks at Absolem.
Absolem scolds Chess, “Stupid cat, I wouldn’t have called it here if I didn’t want her to see it.”
Chess nods and then tosses the Oraculum into the air. It unfurls and lands on the other side of Alice and Hatter. The scroll has unveiled only what Alice asked for. She stares down at the picture and then up to her namesake; the Jabberwocky looked nothing like the one that had chased her and Hatter through the Forest of Wabe. Then she reexamines the scene and gasps.
Hatter feels her surprise and…happiness? He looks down at the picture and sees his mum fighting the Jabberwocky. He tries to see what Alice saw, what had made her so happy.
Absolem smiles. Alice got it, more than anyone in all of Wonderland but him. He softly praises her as he asks, “You understand now, don’t you?”
Mirana and the rest look up at Alice trying to figure out what Absolem is talking about. They see the same scene they had seen time and time again. Tarrant closes his eyes briefly, remembering what had transpired to make that scene come about.
Alice looks at Absolem and nods. Then she requests of him, “May I explain?” Before Absolem can agree, the Kingdom and Wonderland tell her to go ahead. Seconds later, Absolem is agreeing also. “Yes. Maybe then, they will understand what you have been trying to tell them. Cherished and Beloved, your role in this world is to help us.”
Alice nods and looks up into Hatter’s soft brown eyes. She senses him sending his support and love, but she also feels his curiosity behind all of the emotions. He is after all, the son of the first Alice that had been known over many years of having a lot of curiosity.
Smiling up at him she asks him softly, “Hatter when you look at the Oraculum, what do you see?”
Hatter frowns and he answers her, “I see me mum fighting the Jabberwocky.”
Alice nods and gently encouraging her love to look again, asks, “What else do you see?”
Hatter glances at her and then looks back at the scroll. Staring at it, he tries to figure out what she is saying. Then all of a sudden it comes to him. The scroll shows nothing but that his mum is fighting the Jabberwocky. Not her slaying it, not the battle below that he knows had been taking place, not his mum leaving afterwards. It shows nothing but that one piece of the puzzle!
Alice’s smile gets bigger as his surprise and then understanding radiate through the bond. In the back of her mind, she notes that she is feeling more and more of his reactions and feelings from the Bond than at first.
Hatter glances at her and tells her, “It really shows us nothing, does it? It only shows us that Mum is the one to fight the beast. It never shows anything that happened before her arrival or what was going on in those days, during or after the fact.”
Tarrant gasps in shock and moves closer to the scroll. He looks down and sees that his son is right. The Oraculum doesn’t show Alice defeating the Jabberwocky. It only shows that she was the one to fight the creature. His eyes turn a reddish color and he demands of the scroll, “Yer slurking urpal slackush scrum of a bloody scroll, show me wha’ you had of me bairns!”
The Oraculum jumps and it moves quickly to show the Mad Hatter what he has requested. Who Tarrant is – the Mad Hatter, a Champion of Wonderland, the Lord of the Hightopp Clan, an intricate part of the magic of Wonderland – all of this gives him the authority to demand more than the man ever has. However, his anger sparks his other side, the protective side.
Alice and Hatter gasp as it shows their first meeting in the Tea Shoppe. Then it blurs again and shows them on the ledge outside of the Tea Shoppe and Hatter offering his hand to her. Moving again, it shows them in the Great Library talking with the refugees suggested below them. Then it shows their kiss at the fireside of the Manor. It moves slower and shows Alice hanging off a board above a deep abyss. This causes Hatter to tighten his arms around his love, remembering finding her there and the terror he had felt is one of his vivid memories of Alice being scared.
The scroll moves again and shows Alice straining against the Suits as Hatter is on the ground under a large group of Suits. Then it shows Alice crying in one-half of the scene and on the other side Hatter being tortured. It shows the children being pulled into Wonderland against their will. Before anyone could react, there is Alice crying, then Alice facing off against the Queen of Hearts. Hatter is nowhere in either scene.
Tarrant screams in anger. “That slurking urpal scroll is nae useless! If either Alice or me had seen this, we would hae thought our son dead!”
Absolem watches Tarrant and tells his oldest friend, in a voice that sounds dead, “Tarrant, this is why I never showed you the Oraculum. I was broken hearted that I could not see David anymore; much less expose you to that heart-wrenching thought. And I have known what Alice has just figured out for centuries.”
Comprehension dawns on everyone’s faces at that time. Alice informs them, “The scroll does nothing but show a snapshot of a scene. It doesn’t even show all of the scene, just a portion. I had to confront the Queen of Hearts. Hatter was there by my side the entire time, but I was the crucial person in that scene so it shows only me. This is not telling the whole story. I never would have done what I did without having Hatter there with me. I wanted our life together to start. To do that, we had to finish the Queen of Hearts and her rule. If Hatter had not been there supporting me, I would not have been able to do what I did.”
Hatter then speaks up to his parents. “The same thing with the Jabberwocky, Fa. It doesn’t show the fighting below, that it was only because you interfered and wouldn’t let Mum’s life end earlier. It doesn’t show anything but the scene before Mum had cut off the head of the Jabberwocky. But everyone took that to mean that she was the only one that could defeat the Jabberwocky.”
Alice Kingsliegh is in shock as she realizes that David and Alice are correct. They all had put too much trust in the Oraculum. The one thing that has always bothered her about Wonderland is now put to rest. She never lost her freewill. She is the one who freely chose to rescue Tarrant. She is the one who chose to don the armor of the Champion.
The group looks at each other. Santi speaks up and quietly tells them, “I would encourage that everyone in this group keep this all to themselves. The advantage this gives us is immense. However, if we let all of Wonderland know this, then the advantage goes to any foes we have. With how much Wonderland and the Kingdom of the Knights are pressuring everyone, I think it wise to keep this quiet.”
Hatter thinks over what his duke is telling the group and then looks down at Alice. This is her choice. She is the one who had poked and prodded until the knowledge came forth. Before he can open his mouth to ask her, he feels her agreement with Santi. He cocks his head to the side trying to understand.
Alice takes pity on her Bonded and teases him, “Chess player here, Hatter. What Santi has just said is appealing to that side. So with all I have learned about talents, I should listen to mine right?”
Tarrant has calmed down from what he had seen. He answers his daughter, “Aye, Alice. Your talents are there tae help you.”
Alice K. walks up to her daughter and son, putting a hand on the younger Alice’s leg, she tells her, “Trust your instincts and talents, Alice. They are some of the most powerful tools you have. Also trust your Bond and love with Hatter. Neither of those will ever fail you.” She hopes that this information will help her new daughter.
Absolem sends the Oraculum away and everyone breaks up to make ready for Alice’s and Hatter’s departure.
Xavier comments dryly, “I can see already that there is never a moment to be missed around here.”
The comment catches Alice and Hatter off guard and their laughter rings out in the courtyard. It reassures everyone that had seen the meeting and the reactions. If the new King and Queen can laugh, then there is nothing to concern them.
Everyone gets sorted out and good byes are said. No goodbye is permanent with Chessur and Absolem available to transport anyone instantly to any part of Wonderland for them to visit each other.
Hatter leads the way out of the courtyard with Alice still in front of him. The Court follows them, then the soldiers that are coming with them. The knights chant to themselves, “Right, Right, Right, Left, Right…”
Alice chuckles as she hears them. She finds it eerie to hear a voice where she never sees a mouth. She then asks Hatter, “What happened to the chess pieces? They have no mouth…”
Hatter looks down at his love and answers her, “They will change now that they are ours instead of Mirana’s. Moreover, if you like them to look human, they will. I truly have no preference, so yours will prevail over them.”
Shaking her head, Alice asks, “And you guys never think that this is too much power in a liege’s hands?”
Hatter sighs. “That is why it is so important to have the Bond with a Mate and with the lands. These usually put a check on the liege’s power. Can you imagine having to fight all three? You and I have no problems, since right now, we agree on so much, or one of us has a preference over the other not caring. However, if the decision goes against the other of us, Wonderland or the Kingdom, pressure will be brought down everywhere to get it fixed. Remember, there is free will. However, it will be harder to stand under that sort of pressure for long. We think that was the final straw with Iracebeth, she was fighting Wonderland and the Red Kingdom on what she was planning.”
Alice thinks about it as they move along silently. Hatter respects his Mate’s need to think through things. It’s her ability to do so that has opened him and others up to new thoughts and realizations. To be honest, he is happy there is nobody dictating his every move. Then his mind slides to what the Oraculum had shown to his Fa’s demand. He had recognized the scene that showed when he had started to fall in love with Alice. He wonders at the scene on the ledge outside the Tea Shoppe. Is that where Alice had started her own descent in love with him? Or is there some other significance to that scene? He knows looking back at it, that it was the first time she had truly trusted him. She had trusted him to lead her with her fear of heights.
Chessur floats forward and clears his throat. Aneesa looks at him and asks, “And you are needing what, you meddlesome cat?”
Alice is shaken out of her thoughts by her companions’ comment.
Chessur lazily answers back, “I thought you would like me just like Alice.”
Aneesa laughs and tells him, “Alice is wise and freed me. I am here because I love her. Not because I have to.”
Chess turns in the air and floats closer to Alice. “Is this true, luv?”
Hatter’s shoulders shake in laughter. Chess is incorrigible. He knows Chess would never do anything to take Alice away from him, but Chess can’t help but flirt.
Alice looks at her friend and tells him flatly, “Yep.” Moreover, because she is in a whimsy moody, she takes a page from Hatter and pops the p.
Hatter can’t hold it in anymore and his laughter rings free. He hugs Alice to him and comments, “Chess, leave us alone for a little bit.”
Chess grins at him and fades out, until only his grin is showing. Then even that disappears.
Alice leans back into Hatter.
Hatter feels her exhaustion and her desire to take a nap and quietly suggests, “Alice, sleep my love. It’s been a long day. Time graciously gave more of himself today so we could complete what we needed to. I’ll watch over us both.”
Alice gives in and relaxes against her Bonded. Soon she is sleeping. Hatter keeps an eye out, but mostly keeps an eye on his love.
This causes him to miss the golden eyes watching them as they leave the White Kingdom.