|Coming of Age
Author: BombChele PM
Alice fell down into a world of Wonder, but those she are close to in London know much more about that land than she. Just how connected are the Abovelanders to Underland? And how will they determine Alice's fate?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Drama - Alice K. & Lady Ascot - Chapters: 18 - Words: 30,742 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 05-13-12 - Published: 01-08-12 - id: 7724030
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
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Chapter Seventeen: Journey to the Spades Kingdom
A/N: I have to admit that I did not finish reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or watch any previous AiW movies before writing this, so aside from Alice running into the Cheshire Cat in the Burton movie, I don't have much to go on as far as what's actually in the Tulgey Wood (and I don't want to put the Cheshire Cat into this story, as Charles states in the movie that he didn't know that cats could smile, meaning that he would've never met Chess in his life in Underland).
Sorry for the lack of updates! The place where my Writing Group met went out of business and therefore I haven't really made time to write. But now we're starting up again, so I should be back to my weekly chapters! Ah, I am rambling, so I shall leave off and let you get back to the story! But before I go, another BIG thank you to all my readers & reviewers! Thank you for sticking with this story through all the ups and downs!
Disclaimer: Alice in Wonderland does not belong to me. It belongs to Lewis Carroll and all the wonderful people that brought it to life so that I could take up an interest in it and be motivated to write fan fiction. I salute them all.
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Rowena should not have been afraid of the woods, she supposed, but her previous travels through it were much different than they were this time. The first, she was only eight-years-old, traveling with her parents and was on a grand adventure, she felt. Everything was new and novel, and it was too much for her to process. Aside from lots of trees, she didn't have much memory of it.
Her second and third trips were the most recent and she therefore remembered them better. The trip to Ipalm was taken early morning on the main road between Marmoreal and there. There's not much tree cover on that stretch of path, and the sun shone brightly upon her. On her return trip, it was dark due to her detour to the Spades Castle, and her family had rented a carriage to take them back to their home. But again, both of those trips were with her parents, and even if it hadn't been as bright, she felt secure with having them there.
That's not to say that she didn't feel secure with her dearest friends Charles and Imogene with her. And traveling in a group of three was much safer than traveling alone. But like Charles had mentioned at lunch, they were not soldiers and wouldn't know how to defend themselves against any threat. Secondly, they were on a Secret Mission, and no one else knew that they were traveling through the wood. Lastly, they were most definitely not traveling on the well lit path from Marmoreal. In an effort to stay unseen, they were taking a different path where the sun's rays did not always travel through the forest's ceiling and left much of the brush shrouded in darkness.
Rowena was not alone in feeling scared, as the Kingsleighs were also a bit frazzled. However, no one mentioned it aloud, because speaking it would make it apparent. Instead, Charles led the way, deftly avoiding any tall roots or fallen branches, calling out to the ladies if anything could obstruct their path. Imogene and Rowena followed closely, not wanting to get too far behind.
"What do you suppose we'll see when we get there?" Imogene asked the question that everyone was thinking.
"I don't know," Charles replied. "It could be Anything."
"I suppose you'll be able to see the Castle of Spades," Rowena interjected. "Remember how I told you both about its exterior?"
"Yes," Imogene said. "I couldn't get enough of you telling us about it."
"Please," Charles piped in, "tell us more."
"Well," Rowena started, trying to remember what she had and hadn't told the siblings, "the castle is made up of white stones, not marble slabs like Marmoreal. The stones are a bit rougher, but they are just as cool to the touch, if you can imagine."
"I can," he said.
"I want to feel just as you did when you came up over the horizon," Imogene added.
"It was amazing," Rowena continued, "it was the same way I felt when I saw Marmoreal for the first time. It was different than anything I had ever seen before."
"I wonder what parts of the castle Prince Jareb had a say in," Imogene wondered as she took her brother's hand to help steady her over a large log.
"Much of it, I'm sure," Rowena said, lifting her skirts to avoid disrupting a bed of mome raths.
"I can't wait to see what it looks like," Imogene said, sighing. "It sounds wonderful."
"Would you expect anything less than that?" Rowena asked.
Imogene laughed, "No, not at all."
"The path is much smoother ahead," Charles called, now a few feet ahead. "We'll be able to travel much faster."
"Good," Imogene replied firmly, "we'll be able to cover more ground quickly."
The girls rushed up to catch up with Charles. The hems of their skirts and petticoats caught on wayward branches, but they were not big enough to trip up the girls. Once they reached Charles, he too quickened his step, and the three of them ran on for the next quarter of an hour.
Finally, Charles slowed, gasping for air. "I think it is time for us to take a bit of rest."
"Yes," Imogene agreed, almost breathless.
Rowena stepped ahead of them both, looking for a spot to rest. "Here," she called, "there's a little space between these trees here."
The siblings followed her, and the three sat down on the grassy floor.
"How much further do you think we have to go?" Imogene asked after catching her breath.
"Not far," Rowena replied. "It's just over a half a day's walk from Marmoreal to Crims, and the Spades Castle is much closer than that. We should smell the air of the Crimson Sea shortly."
"Agreed," Charles said. "It shan't be long now."
"Well let's go then," Imogene said eagerly.
"In a moment," he replied. "First, we will eat to regain the strength we lost running."
"Whatever do you mean, Charles? We left the picnic basket at the edge of the forest as not to slow us down."
Charles smiled with a twinkling in his eye, "Yes, but I did not say that we didn't have provisions."
He opened his jacket pocket and pulled out a silver flask and a bunched up napkin. He laid the napkin on the ground between them and unfolded it, revealing a pile of crumbled cakes and sweets. Imogene and Rowena laughed at his attempt to store food. Even so, they both reached out and picked up a few crumbs and began eating.
"Crumb cake?" Rowena asked.
"Indeed," Charles chuckled, "although my crumbs have disassembled themselves from a cake back into their original form."
"I think I have a bit of cheesecake and bumbleberry tart crumbs," Imogene said, licking her fingers.
Rowena scooped up another bit of crumbs and put them in her mouth. "Bumbleberry, yes, with some greenberry and apricot scone."
"Your gloves are going to be quite ruined," Imogene pointed out to Rowena, who was wearing white satin gloves unlike Imogene's fingerless cotton ones.
"True. I suppose I will just have to discard these."
"Hmm," Charles and Imogene solemnly nodded in agreement.
"Or," Rowena continued, "I shall hold onto them as keepsakes of our little adventure together!"
"That would be marvelous," Imogene laughed.
"I do like collecting things from my travels," Charles agreed. "That is a wonderful idea!"
"So it's decided," Rowena said, picking up another handful of the not-so-crumb cake, "I will return home with dirty gloves and place them on my bedside table after washing to remind me of the good time had with friends."
"Yes, excellent!" the Kingsleigh siblings agreed.
After a few moments, Imogene clapped her hands together, dusting the remnants of food off of her. "Well now that that is settled, I believe we are ready to go."
"Yes," Charles said, shaking out the now empty napkin. "But first, let us be refreshed." He unscrewed the cap of his silver flask, and passed it to Rowena. "Take a sip of water, but save some for the rest of us!" he directed.
Rowena did as she was told, then passed the flask to Imogene. Imogene took a gulp, and then returned the container to her brother. Charles then finished off what was left, and returned the flask to his jacket pocket as he stood.
"Shall we ladies?" he asked, offering a hand to each of them.
"We shall," Rowena and Imogene agreed, taking the offered arms and lifting themselves off of the ground with assistance.
The trio then set off back on the path toward the Spades Castle. The trees were beginning to thin out in density, signaling to them that the forest edge was rapidly approaching. The road was still covered with branches, but it was much easier to navigate with the large amount of filtered light that was coming through the forest canopy.
"That's odd…" Rowena commented mostly to herself, but with her companions close, they overheard.
"What was that?" Imogene asked.
"I was expecting to smell the sea by now, but instead I smell something much different."
"What is it?" Charles said, turning around to face her.
Rowena shook her head, "No, it's nothing. I must be imagining things."
"You can hardly imagine a smell if you smell it," Charles said to her. "What do you sense?"
"Smoke," Rowena said plainly.
"Smoke?" both Imogene and Charles added. They both unconsciously sniffed the air, trying to pick up on the smell themselves.
"Yes," Rowena confirmed. "My father is a glassmaker and I come from a town and a clan full of glassmakers. I grew up around kilns and fire; I can smell smoke from miles away."
"Where do you think the smoke is coming from?" Imogene asked.
"I do not know," Rowena acknowledged. "It's possible someone is cooking something, but I'm not so sure. This stench of smoke doesn't carry one of food."
Rowena continued walking in thought, with Imogene and Charles slowing down to her pace, looking at her strangely.
"Well," Charles stated after a moment, "there's no use dwelling on it. There have to be houses and towns nearby; it's possible you just smell the normal scents of a village."
"Yes, you are probably right," Rowena agreed, unconvinced.
"Keep your senses up for hints of the sea," he urged. "We need to know how to navigate."
"I will," Rowena said, distracted.
The group then picked back up to their previous pace. But it wasn't long before Charles froze. Imogene had a look of worry about her face as well.
"What's wrong?" Rowena asked.
"What do you smell?" Charles asked.
Rowena shrugged her shoulders. She hadn't caught any new scents since the last time she announced it.
"Smoke," Imogene answered.
"You smell it, too?" Rowena asked emphatically.
"Yes, we all do," Charles answered. "Come quickly!" he called, beginning to run.
Imogene and Rowena followed suit and began to run as well. As they got within sight of the Tugley Wood edge, they also came within sight of billowing smoke. The three friends exchanged worried looks at each other before running even faster, hoping that they would make it to the battlefield in time.