The Dangers of Madness

NiGHTS opened her eyes.

She shook her head and looked around her. This wasn't Nightopia! This appeared to be a huge building covered in clockwork. Who would dream of a place like this? NiGHTS got up, trying to remember how she got here. She was trying to escape from something... or someone...

"REALA!"

She left the ground, not knowing what had become of her brother but determined to find out at all costs. She had to find him! She had to! She...

"What on earth?" NiGHTS stared down at the two roly poly figures beneath her. She could not help but giggle. They looked so funny, all round with weird stripy tops.

"Hello!" She called down to them. "I'm NiGHTS. What's your name?" They both looked at her, such a dumb look of bewilderment on their faces that NiGHTS rolled over in the air, helpless with giggles. She was so distracted with laughing that she did not see or hear the strange green man in a top hat behind her. Or the blowpipe he held to his lips...

"AAARGH!" NiGHTS clutched her arm in pain, looking down at the dart lodged in there. Before she could make another sound, the ticking of clockwork was suddenly drowned out by the clicking of a huge cage crashing down on her. NiGHTS was unconscious as soon as she hit the floor.

The green man looked at his prize in the cage.

"This shall be a very interesting experiment."

Alice looked at the stranger intently.

He was very strange, dressed in a kind of red bodysuit or something, with a red jesters hat on his head. His appearance seemed fairly human but something about him made it clear he was anything but human. Also his body was the wrong proportions for a human, the head was slightly too large and round and his skin was unnaturally pale.

He noticed her stares and turned to face her.

"Are you going to tell me who you are then?"

"If you remember, I do believe that I asked you that question first."

"Where do you get the nerve to speak to me like that?"

"Rutledge Asylum. Why, do you want some?" He was outraged.

"How dare you use such insolence when addressing me? Don't you know who I am?"

"No, that's why I'm asking."

His eyes flared with anger and his voice took on a venomous tone.

"I am Lord Reala! General of the Nightmaren army and second in command to the rightful emperor of the universe, Master Wizeman!" He gritted his teeth and said in a mockingly sweet voice, "I believe it's your turn to identify yourself, Miss."

She eyed him, a small smile growing on her face.

"My name is Alice, everyone thinks I'm mad." With that, she got up and started walking away.

Reala gaped. Then he let out a roar of sheer anger. He let off several fireballs before he calmed down.

"She's just a human. Don't let her aggravate you." He told himself.

He breathed deeply then began to follow Alice, although he couldn't quite shake off the feeling that the abnormally tall flowers were giving him strange looks.

"If I stay here much longer then I'll go mad. I need to find NiGHTS and get out of here." He grinned malevolently. "But you won't get rid of me that easily Alice. You will have the nightmare that Nightmarens fear before I leave. That will teach you for being so insolent."