Note to the readers: Just wanted to let everyone know a couple of things before you begin reading. First, this is a complete rework of two stories I used have on this site, "Chess Pieces" and "Through Arkham's Looking-Glass". I decided to scrap those stories simply because I was not proud of them. I could have done better, and that is what I'm attempting to do here. Second, my original character has had a makeover. She still has, ah…certain abilities, but her background and how she turned criminal is completely different, as is how she and a certain canon character's relationship develop.
Finally, I want to say that the Mad Hatter you will read about in this story has the appearance of the Hatter from The Batman & Robin Adventures comic, which was a spinoff of the Animated Series. That one looks like the Animated Series Jervis Tetch, but instead of blonde hair and blue attire; he has red hair and green attire. I'm also writing him with a bit of a darker personality.
I hope you all have an open mind when reading this. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I own nothing except Alysyn McArthur. Please, if you like her and would like to use her in your own stories, ask me first!
"Gotham City is seeing a lot of sunshine and warm weather today as a warm front has come in from the south. Expect temperatures in the mid-eighties, with humidity levels around sixty percent. Tonight, temperatures won't drop too much, staying in the low to mid-seventies."
"Thank you, Jerry. When we come back, we'll tell you the story of a Congregationalist community located in western Pennsylvania that persecuted a husband and wife for being Pagan."
The sound of glass shattering on a tiled floor resounded throughout the small apartment as a woman in her mid-twenties came rushing into the living room. Alysyn McArthur had been preparing lunch for herself while listening to the news. When she heard the part about the Congregationalist community in western Pennsylvania, her nerves immediately failed, causing her to drop the glass she'd been pouring a drink into.
"No, no, no! Please, don't let it be them. Please…" she whispered frantically to herself, shakily taking a seat in the Lazy-Boy armchair that was situated in front of the television.
There was grape juice splattered all over her tiled kitchen floor, but she didn't care. Her parents lived in western Pennsylvania…in a Congregationalist community. The people there never particularly liked Alysyn and her family, as they practiced an ancient art that to them was considered sacrilegious.
A few moments later, the news came back on and she leaned forward in her chair, putting her hands over her mouth as she watched and listened in trepidation.
"Welcome back to GNN. Today, at eight-thirty this morning, police in western Pennsylvania found the bodies of William and Katherine McArthur burned at the stake in their own front yard."
Gotham National News showed the picture of a Victorian-style house, painted a nice shade of green with white trim. The neatly manicured front lawn was busy with assorted camera crews, newscasters, and police. The camera from GNN zoomed in on the charred stakes that Alysyn's parents had been murdered on. Alysyn, her breath coming in short, fast hitches, felt as though she were in a dream.
"This can't be happening! It can't!"
"This Congregationalist community consists of highly religious people, and according to the investigators, Mr. and Mrs. McArthur dabbled in the occult. There have been no records or evidence to suggest that the couple hurt anyone in the community, but police did say that there had been a lot of tension between them and the community since the family had moved in. When asked if the couple did, in fact, study the occult, investigators said they hadn't found anything pertaining to the subject. Mr. and Mrs. McArthur left only one family member behind: their daughter, Alysyn McArthur, who is currently living right here in Gotham City. Investigators are currently trying to figure out who in the community murdered the couple. We'll keep you up to date when new reports reach us."
"Thank you, Caroline," said Patrick, the middle-aged newscaster for GNN. "This is a sad story. It goes to show you how deep some religious prejudices can go. Our sincere condolences go out to their daughter. Next up—"
The newscaster was cut off when a blast of red energy destroyed the television. Alsysn was now standing in front of the armchair, right hand held out. A dim red glow surrounded her hand, and a look of sheer rage shone in her green eyes. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and she was breathing heavily, trying to control herself.
"Those bastards!" she screamed. "Why couldn't they just leave my parents alone?! They gave up their ways so they could live in peace, yet those…those fanatics still persecuted them! I hate society!"
Alysyn's family had indeed been involved in the occult at one time. Her parents had taught her since she was very young the ways of magic and the supernatural. When they had moved to the community in western Pennsylvania, things slowly began to change. At first, she and her parents didn't realize how religious the community was until neighbors started knocking at their door wanting them to join their church. When her parents didn't comply after several of the community's attempts, that's when things began to escalate. The old neighbors would spy on her family, and once, someone had caught her mother shaking out an altar cloth with a pentagram on it. They had tried to be discreet about their practices. They never hurt anyone, yet those Congregationalists constantly tormented them, calling them "the Devil's breed".
As Alysyn paced around her living room, a knock came at the door. At first, she didn't want to answer it, fearing that she may snap at whoever was on the other side. When she heard the voice that came through the door, she decided otherwise.
"Alyce? It's me, Theresa. Are you all right?"
Taking several slow, deep breaths, Alysyn, or Alyce, as some of her friends liked to call her, approached the door to her apartment and opened it. A woman around her age with jet-black hair and brown eyes stood on the other side, concern written all over her face.
"I…I just saw the news, and I…I heard screaming. I'm…I'm so sorry, Alyce!"
Alyce stared blankly at her friendly neighbor for a few moments, trying to make sense of the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that were currently coursing through her. Salty tears continued to flow steadily down her cheeks, but she made no move to wipe them away. Her parents, her family, had been crudely taken from her, and she was losing it.
"Alyce? Please…say something. I understand how you must feel right now. Like you, I moved to Gotham to get away from the community I lived in," Theresa said, trying to console her good acquaintance.
Alyce had moved to Gotham when she was eighteen to get away from the community that had just executed her parents. That was eight years ago. She had asked her parents to move with her, but they refused, stating that they had grown comfortable with the house. They had even given up their magical practices in the hopes that the community would accept them. Obviously, their attempts to fit in had failed. Alyce, on the other hand, continued to practice magic, and found that Gotham harbored many more open-minded people than she was previously used to. Still, she didn't like to be flamboyant about her natural abilities, as there were many people out there who just didn't understand the nature of magic and the possibilities it can bring. After all, people generally fear what they do not understand.
"You didn't lose your parents, though, did you?" Alyce asked a bit snippily after several moments of uncomfortable silence passed between the two young women.
"Well, no, but…I'm sorry. I should leave you alone," Theresa said, looking guilty.
Alyce sighed heavily and finally wiped the tears from her eyes. "No, I'm sorry. You're only trying to comfort me and I'm being...well…unpleasant. Thank you, Theresa."
She broke into fresh tears then and Theresa stepped over the threshold and wrapped her arms around her friend, gently stroking her brunette-auburn hair in the attempt to comfort her. After several moments of silence, only broken by Alyce's sobs, Alyce pulled away from her friend and hung her head.
"Th-thank you f-for coming over, T-Theresa. I…I think I need to be alone now."
"Will you be all right? If you need anything, you know I'm just down the hall," Theresa said kindly.
Sniffling, Alyce replied, "O-okay. Th-thank you."
Theresa gently squeezed Alyce's shoulder and smiled comfortingly before heading back down the hall to her own apartment. Alyce quietly shut the door. She felt numb as she slowly walked into the kitchen to begin cleaning up the shattered glass and spilt grape juice. It was a futile effort, though, and she quickly gave up, angrily throwing a large piece of the broken glass into the cupboards, splintering the glass even more. Taking a deep, ragged breath, Alyce turned and headed back into the living room. She sat down heavily in the armchair and cried herself to sleep.