Walt Disney and GothicDancer proudly present:
Moegi as Alice or Kishimoto's Moegi in Wonderland
It was a hot, humid summer day when two young women decided to study their lessons outside to get away from the noise of the city. The older of the two women sat in the shade of a tree and opened her book to the first page. She began to read aloud.
The time seemed to pass awfully slowly, but the woman didn't mind. She enjoyed reading. "And so, Osamu Tezuka, who would later be known as 'The God of Manga,' published his famous series 'Astro Boy,' and...Moegi!"
"Hmm? Oh, I'm listening, Sakura-sensei."
There was a little girl up in the tree, one much younger than the woman below it. Moegi was a pretty little girl with bright orange hair up in two pigtails. She smoothed out her blue dress and placed several daisies together to make a crown, which she placed upon a cat's head. The kitten, annoyed at the flowers, pushed them off, and they fell right into Sakura's lap.
"Ugh," the older girl groaned, "Moegi, will you PLEASE pay attention to your history lesson?"
"I'm sorry," Moegi replied, sighing, "but how can you read a book about manga and not have any pictures?"
"My Dear Child, there are plenty of books in this world, even ones about pictures, that do not have pictures."
"Maybe in your world. But in my world, books would be nothing but pictures."
"Your world?" Sakura repeated. "What nonsense." And she went on reading.
That statement seemed to spark Moegi's interest. "Nonsense? Yes! That's it, Kitty. In my world, everything would be nonsense. Things that would be would not be, and things that would not be would. Get it?"
Moegi hopped down from the tree on the side opposite Sakura. "In my world, you wouldn't say, 'Meow.' You'd say, 'Yes, Miss Moegi'."
"Oh, but you would!" The little girl picked up the cat and brought it to a field full of daisies. "The other animals would, too. Why, in a world of my own, all the animals would be like people, and all the flowers could talk to me. My world would be...a Wonderland."
Moegi's cat suddenly started to cry out at a reflection in the nearby pond. Moegi looked up and was absolutely shocked. There was a man dressed in fine clothes, only he had rabbit ears! He looked at his large waistcoat pocket and gasped. "Oh, my goodness! I'm late! I'm late!"
"Now THAT is something you don't see every day!" Moegi remarked. "I wonder where he's going. Mr. Rabbit Man, wait! Can you tell me your name?"
"No, no, no, no time for Ebisu to explain!" the man replied. "I'm late! I'm late! The Queen will have my head for sure!" He continued to run until he scurried into a small hole, and Moegi was right behind him.
"I wonder if he's off to a party," she thought aloud. "If he is, this is quite a strange place for it. You know, Kitty, we shouldn't be doing this, because curiosity often leads to TROUBLE!!" She lost her balance and suddenly fell forward into a long, dark passageway. She waved goodbye to her cat, and her dress suddenly puffed up, allowing her to fall rather slowly. "Goodness," she gasped. "After this, I shall think nothing of falling down the stairs."
Moegi fell down that rabbit hole for quite some time. Along with her for the ride were floating objects such as chairs, books, cabinets, and tables. Moegi could even spot a map. "I wonder if I shall fall straight through the earth and pop up in a place where people walk upside-down. Oh, but that's silly. No one can--!"
She suddenly stopped at hit the floor with a loud thunk. When she came to her senses, she saw Ebisu running through the halls, and she kept following him until she came upon a door. She opened one after another until the final door led into a little, empty room where the rabbit man was nowhere to be found. The only thing Moegi could see was a very tiny door across the room. When she went to open it, a voice called out.
"Hey!" came the voice, a man's voice. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"I beg your pardon," Moegi replied. "I was just trying to follow the rabbit man."
"Oh, he's right through here." That was when the man's eyes opened. His steel gray eyes and bright red hair were quite distracting, but Moegi found all of him very strange. His body seemed to melt into the wall, and a metal contraption beneath him framed the tiny doorway. Moegi looked into the man's eyes and could see beyond the door.
"Oh, I must get through! Mister...?"
"Nagato. And, sorry, you're far too big. Impassible."
"You mean 'impossible'."
"No, 'impassible.' Nothing's impossible! Why don't you try the drink on the table?"
And just like that, a glass table appeared in the room. Moegi picked the bottle up and read the label, which had the words "Drink Me" written in a beautiful cursive style. "Huh, I better check it first. That's good advice I give myself, no? If one drinks too much from a bottle marked 'Poison,' it is sure to disagree with one sooner or later. Oh well, here it goes." She took a long sip from the bottle and said, "Oh, it tastes like the ramen back at home!"
But then, the bottle fell right on top of Moegi, and she tipped backwards. Nagato laughed as Moegi ran towards him. "Look at me! I'm just the right size."
"You may be," the doorman agreed, "but I forgot to tell you something. My door is locked! Do you have the key?"
A key then suddenly appeared on top of the table. Moegi tried to climb it, but the glass was too slippery. When she fell, Nagato made a box full of candies appear. "Eat Me?" Moegi read. "Well, alright." She took a bite and suddenly grew so large she could barely fit in the room! Tears slipped down her cheeks when Nagato began to laugh. "Well, I don't think it's very funny!"
"Oh, come now," the redhead sighed, "crying won't help."
"I know!" Moegi sobbed. "But I can't stop!"
Soon, Moegi's tears filled the entire room. In fact, the pool of tears had evolved into a sea! Nagato cried out for Moegi to take the last sip from the floating bottle, and when the girl did so, she shrank again. She was so small that she could fit inside the bottle. "Oh dear," she sighed, "I do wish I hadn't cried so much."
The strength of the water was so great that Nagato's door burst open, and it flowed out until it met with another large body of water. She floated there for a while until she heard singing.
"Oh, how I love to sail!" came the voice. Moegi looked up to see a man floating through the water with three children surrounding him. "Land ho!" he suddenly cried.
"Yes, Gai-sensei!" one of the children replied. "Tenten, Neji, we must get to shore!"
"Ugh, Lee," the other two children groaned as they floated together onward. Moegi watched as several other children followed the first group. She called out for help, but a wave crashed down upon her, soaking her to the bone. She fell out of the bottle and washed up onto the land.
"I say!" came Gai-sensei's voice. "What are you doing down there? You can't get dry like that! Join the caucus race!"
"Dry?" Moegi repeated. "The tide is constantly coming in and out here. We can't get dry!"
"You can if you start running! The fire of your soul will get you dry!"
Moegi shrugged and started to run around the circle surrounding Gai-sensei's high platform. "No one can get dry like this," she panted. But when she looked up, she could see Ebisu. "Mr. Rabbit Man!" she called. "Wait a moment!"
"I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!" Ebisu repeated as he ran into the nearby forest. Moegi ran out of the circle and followed him through the trees. Soon, the man was out of sight.
"Oh, I was sure he had come this way," Moegi said to herself. She began to look around the area, not knowing that two figures were watching her. They followed her about until she caught sight of them. "Oh, my goodness! How strange..." She stepped forward and observed their name tags, which read "Izumo" and "Kotetsu."
"Did you think we were one in the same?" Izumo asked.
"Because we are two separate people," Kotetsu reasoned.
The two men then spoke together, "That's logic!"
"Well," Moegi laughed, "it's been very nice meeting you, but I must go."
The two men jumped in front of her path. "You have to say, 'How do you do?' and shake hands!" they insisted. "That's manners!"
"Really? Well, my name is Moegi, and I must be on my way."
"Because I'm following a rabbit man."
"Well, I'm curious to know where he's going."
"Oh, she's curious..." the two men gasped.
"Oh, that's not good," Izumo gasped. "Remember what happened to that little girl from the Land of Waves?"
Kotetsu scratched his head. "I thought it was a boy..."
"No, it was definitely a girl."
"If you say so."
Moegi shivered a bit. SHE was a little girl. "Tell me the story please," she begged.
There was once a man named Zabuza and his assistant Suigetsu. The two of them roamed across several countries until Zabuza came up with the idea to add a third person to their party. When they entered the Land of Waves, they met the most beautiful little girl. Suigetsu was eager to bring the child along with them, but Zabuza had his own plans. He told Suigetsu to make some lunch for the three of them to share, and the young man quickly ran off to gather some food from a local market. When the young man returned, Zabuza and the little girl were gone.
Moegi frowned. "That wasn't a very nice story."
Izumo and Kotetsu smiled. "But there's a very good moral."
"Oh yes! If you happen to be a pretty little girl from the Land of Waves. Well, I must be off." She got up and ran off into the woods, leaving the two men behind.
Kotetsu turned to Izumo. "Are you SURE it was a girl?"
Izumo shrugged. "Maybe it was gender-neutral."
Eventually, Moegi came upon a little house in the forest. She could hear someone call out, "Anko! Anko!" When she approached the house, she could see Ebisu.
"The rabbit man!"
"Anko!" Ebisu shouted. "Where have you been?"
"Anko?" Moegi repeated.
"Don't just stand there!" the man cried. "Go get my gloves. I'm late!" He pushed her into his house and sent her up the stairs to his room.
Moegi shrugged when she entered the bedroom. "I suppose I'll be taking orders from my kitty next. Hmm...now if I were a rabbit man, where would I keep my gloves?" She opened several drawers until she found a pot full of cookies that said, "Eat Me." Moegi took one and munched on it while she continued to search, but, in no time, she had grown again! This time, she was so big her legs and arms burst from the windows and doors!
"OH, MY GOODNESS," Ebisu screamed. "HELP!! MONSTER!!" Moegi heard the man run off and return just as quickly. He had found Gai-sensei, the instructor from earlier.
"HOLY MORNING PEACOCK," the man gasped. "Wow, what a situation here! Heh, don't worry, Ebisu! I have just the plan. We'll stuff the monster out through the chimney."
Ebisu nodded. "Oh, please do it."
"ME?!" Gai asked. "Heh, no way. We need someone else. We need..." He glanced over the fence surrounding the house to see a young man with a ladder walking down a nearby path. "Kabuto!" he called. "Kabuto!"
"Yes, Sir?" the young man asked.
Moegi listened as the sensei instructed the young man on going down the chimney. As soon as the man was pushed down into the passage, the ashes from the fireplace rushed into the room. Moegi sneeze so hard that Kabuto blew right up through the chimney and into the sky!
Gai smiled. "There he goes! Ha, don't worry, Ebisu. I have another plan. We'll burn the house down!"
"WHAT?!" Ebisu shouted. "No! No!"
Moegi watched through a window as the man gathered pieces of wood and straw from around the house and tried to start a fire. "Goodness, this is serious," she said to herself. She then looked to a nearby garden and saw several carrots growing there. "Maybe if I eat something..."
"Oh, no, you don't!" Ebisu defended.
"But I must eat something!" Moegi bit down on the carrot and shrank down to an impossibly small size. Ebisu was too busy staring at his watch to realized what had happened. He ran down the path and deeper into the woods, through a large garden.
Once Moegi came to her senses, she ran out of the house and followed the rabbit man into the garden. She couldn't find him again, but she did run into some odd-looking animals. "A bread and butter fly?" she asked herself as the insect flew by. "And a rocking horse fly?"
Moegi turned and saw a large group of flowers together, held up by a single one in the center. Moegi eyed the flower and wondered if it had spoken to her. "No, that's silly," she told herself. "Flowers can't talk!"
"Yes, we can," the flower replied. "My name is Ino, love. This is my garden of flowers. We can talk all we want. We sing, too!"
"You sing?" Moegi asked excitedly. "Oh, I'd love to hear a song!"
Ino rolled her eyes as the other flowers began arguing among themselves, trying to decide which song to sing. Moegi made herself comfortable as the lead flower hushed them all. "We shall sing 'Golden Afternoon'," she told them. "It's about all of us." She gathered the other flowers' attention, and they all sang out their song about gardens and all the different flowers that grow there.
When it was over, Moegi stood and clapped for the chorus. "That was lovely," she complimented. "Thank you so much for the performance."
"Now, My Dear," Ino said, "what kind of flower are you?"
"Oh, I'm not a flower."
"Not a flower?"
Moegi listened as the other flowers spoke among themselves. When they broke away, they had disturbed looks on their faces. Ino glared at Moegi and said, "If you're not a flower, you must be a weed! Get out, we don't want weeds in our garden!" She shooed the little girl out, and a few of the flowers poured some water on her as a practical joke, drenching her.
Moegi stood and wrung out her dress. "Humph!" she snapped. "It seems you all could learn a thing or two about manners." She looked ahead to keep walking but instead caught sight of some very strange smoke puffs. They were in the shape of letters! Moegi ran towards the source of the smoky letters and peered over the edge of a mushroom. There, she saw another strange sight. The creature on top of the mushroom was half-man, half-caterpillar, and he was smoking a hookah. He coughed wildly whenever he breathed in, and letters appeared when he exhaled. He only took a slight interest in Moegi. "Who (cough) are you?" he asked.
"Well," Moegi replied, "I'm afraid I don't know, you see."
"I do not (cough) see. Explain yourself."
"I cannot because I am not myself, you know."
"I do not (cough) know."
"But I'm afraid I can't make it anymore clear."
"You?" The caterpillar man turned back to her. "Who are you?"
Moegi cocked an eyebrow. "Don't you think you ought to tell me who you are first?"
"...Hayate," the caterpillar spoke. "Why?"
Moegi sat down on a nearby mushroom. "Oh, everything is so confusing."
"It (cough) is not."
"Well, to me, it is."
"Well, I can't remember things I normally can."
"Recite," the caterpillar man suddenly commanded.
Moegi instinctively stood and curtsied. "Yes, Sir. Um..." She thought of her latest lesson and decided to recite that, but Hayate stopped her.
"That is (cough) incorrect," he told her. "It goes differently."
Moegi shook her head. "I've never heard of it any other way."
"I know. I (cough) improved it."
"You did not!"
"You?" Hayate repeated angrily. "Who ARE YOU?!"
Moegi took no time to respond. She hastily turned and stomped off, not wanting to deal with the caterpillar man's rudeness. At one point though, the creature called her back, claiming he had something important to say. When Moegi arrived back at the mushroom, Hayate simply said, "Keep your temper."
"Is that all?"
"No, I want to know (cough) exactly what your problem is."
"Well, I should like to be taller. Three inches is such a wretched height, and--!"
"I AM EXACTLY THREE INCHES TALL!!" Hayate suddenly shouted. "IT IS A VERY NICE HEIGHT!!" He puffed so hard on the hookah and that the smoke wrapped around him, and when it cleared, he was gone. That was, until Moegi looked up.
"I have some very important (cough) advice, too," Hayate called, now a butterfly man. "One side will make you (cough) grow taller!"
"One side of what?" Moegi asked.
"And the other (cough) side will make you grow shorter!"
"The other side of what?"
"THE MUSHROOM, OF COURSE!!" And with that, Hayate flew off.
Moegi sat down on the mushroom and took two pieces, one from each side. Hayate had not mentioned which side did what, but she figured that, with everything that had happened during the day, nothing could surprise her anymore. She took a rather large bite from one piece and was soon taller than the trees!
"Serpent!" a bird cried out. "Serpent!"
"I'm not a serpent!" Moegi remarked.
"You're not?" the bird asked. "Then what are you?"
"I'm just a little girl."
"Little? HA! I suppose you don't eat eggs either?"
Moegi nodded. "Yes, I do. They taste very good in ramen."
"I knew it!" the bird remarked. "Serpent!"
Moegi rolled her eyes and bit the other piece of mushroom. In a moment, she was back down to her previous height of three inches. Exasperated, she decided merely to lick the first piece, and she popped up to her normal height. "There!" she laughed, satisfied. "Much better!"
A little while later, Moegi came upon a crossroads. Several paths led in many different directions, but none of the signs pointing to the paths seemed to make sense. Suddenly, she heard a strange song coming from the tops of the trees. "I'm odd," sang a voice, "I'm odd."
Moegi looked up and gasped, for she could only see a single smile atop one of the tree branches. She laughed nervously as the rest of the face and body appeared, and when it did, she gasped again. This was far from what she was expecting.
Sitting up in the tree was a young man, probably no older than Sakura-sensei, with a huge smile plastered on his pale face. Moegi could see cat ears poking out of his black hair, only they were purple. The rest of his clothes...what WAS there anyway...were all purple and pink. Moegi cringed at the thin pieces of fabric wrapped around his chest and lower regions, for they did not leave much to the imagination, what with the young man's (rather nice) abs in plain sight. A tail was attached to his lower back. His arms and legs were covered in striped stockings, and cat paws adorned his feet.
Moegi raised an eyebrow. "Cosplay?" she asked rather stupidly. "You're boy and yet a cat...I think."
The man's grin grew. "Cheshire Sai at your service," he said. He started to disappear, but Moegi begged for him to stop. He appeared again and laughed. "You were saying?"
"Oh, I was just saying that I want to know which way I ought to go," Moegi replied.
Sai shrugged. "That depends a great deal on where you want to get to."
"It doesn't really matter."
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go!" Sai jumped over to another tree and stretched, raising his backside high into the air. Moegi twitched at the position, but her disgust disappeared when the cat boy started to talk again. "If you really want to know, he went that way."
"Ebisu, the Rabbit Man."
"He did what?"
"Went that way?"
"The rabbit man!"
"What rabbit man?"
"But didn't you just say...?"
Sai relaxed from the position and pointed in another direction, this time making his torso quite apparent. "If I were looking for a rabbit man, I'd ask Konohamaru the Mad Hatter."
"Mad Hatter?" Moegi asked shakily. "Um, no, I'd rather not."
"Or you could visit Hanabi the March Hare in the opposite direction."
"Thank you. I shall visit her."
"Of course..." Cheshire Sai laughed, "she's mad, too."
Moegi frowned. "But I don't want to go among mad people!"
"Oh, you can't help that," Sai whispered as his grin continued to grow. He looked at Moegi with huge eyes and said, quite freakishly, "We're ALL mad here..." He started to laugh crazily and suddenly added, "You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself!"
Sure enough, the cat boy was starting to disappear. He continued to sing and laugh even as his body vanished until nothing but his grin was left. After a moment, that disappeared, too.
Moegi gulped audibly. "Goodness," she gasped, "if the people here are all like that, I...I must try not to upset them..."
After a few minutes of walking, Moegi came upon a small house nestled in the forest. She could hear singing coming from the backyard and decided to sneak a peek. There were two people sitting at a large table covered in plates, silverware, and teacups, and Moegi assumed they were Konohamaru and Hanabi. "A Very Merry Unbirthday to you and me!" they sang.
Moegi stood and clapped for them before taking a seat at the end of the table. "That was wonderful!" she called.
The party-goers suddenly looked up as if offended and shouted, "No more room! No more room!"
Moegi glanced at the empty table. "But there's plenty of room. Oh, I did enjoy your song, too."
"You did?" Hanabi asked, smiling.
"What a delightful child!" Konohamaru laughed. "You must have a cup of tea with us."
Moegi nodded. "That sounds lovely. I didn't mean to interrupt your birthday party though."
The rabbit girl's eyes grew wide. "Who said anything about a birthday party?"
"This is an unbirthday party!" her friend added.
"An unbirthday party?" Moegi repeated. "What is that?"
The hatter got up and danced about in a circle. "You know, you only have one birthday a year, right? Well, there are 364 OTHER days! Those are your unbirthdays!"
He stopped when Moegi stood. "Then it's my unbirthday, too!"
"IT IS?!" Hanabi squealed. "Oh, what a small world this is! A Very Merry Unbirthday to you!" She pulled a cake out from under Konohamaru's hat and brought it in front of Moegi. "Blow out the candles, Dear!"
Moegi did so and the cake flew up into the sky and exploded, causing fireworks to rain down. With them came a small, sleepy mouse who sang, "Twinkle twinkle little bat...how I wonder where you're at..." He fell into one of the tea kettles and soon was sound asleep.
Moegi giggled. "How fun that was."
"Yes, quite so," Konohamaru agreed. "Now then, Dear, something seems to be troubling you. Why don't you tell us all about it?"
"Well," the girl began, "I guess it all started when I was playing with my friend."
"And who was this friend of yours?" Hanabi asked.
Moegi smiled. "Why, it was my cat!"
"CAT?!" the mouse cried, running about the table like crazy. Konohamaru and Hanabi chased it down and threw it into one of the tea kettles. Moegi wiped some jam on its nose, and it quickly calmed back down and fell asleep.
"See what you've done?" Hanabi snapped. "Don't say things like that around Udon!"
"I beg your pardon," Moegi replied. "I was sitting out on the riverbank with my...C-A-T."
"TEA?!" Konohamaru laughed.
Hanabi sliced a cup in two. "Just half a cup please."
The hatter turned. "And you, My Dear?"
"Yes, please," Moegi replied. "I'm very fond of tea, but--!"
"CLEAN CUP!!" the hatter suddenly announced. "MOVE DOWN!!" And the whole group moved down to another part of the table. Moegi gave an exasperated sigh and tried to reason with the two party-goers, but Hanabi spoke first.
"I have an excellent idea!" she said. "Let's change the subject!"
Konohamaru nodded. "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
Moegi raised an eyebrow. "Riddles? Hmm...why IS a raven like a writing desk?"
"WHAT?!" the hatter cried. "What are you talking about?"
The rabbit girl backed away. "She's stark raving mad!"
Moegi shook her head. "But you just asked me that question."
"Calm your nerves with a cup of tea."
"Ugh! I'd love to but I'm afraid I just don't have the time!"
"THE TIME?! The time! Who's got the time?!"
Suddenly, Ebisu came running into the backyard, still shouting about how late he was. Konohamaru pulled him over and took his giant watch. Suddenly, he laughed. "No wonder you're late. This watch is two days slow."
"Two days slow?" Ebisu repeated.
The hatter opened the contraption and poured some salt into it while trying to figure out what the problem was. He ended up taking out a lot of the gears and springs that worked the watch, instead opting to put some butter, tea, jam, and lemon inside. Once it was full, he snapped the top part back down on it and let it go.
The watch started to twitch and move about like mad. It jumped around the table and snapped out at the party guests until Hanabi smashed a giant hammer on top of it, completely destroying it.
Ebisu frowned. "My watch...It was an unbirthday present, too."
"REALLY?!" Konohamaru and Hanabi exclaimed. They jumped up and danced around the rabbit man while singing their Unbirthday Song and even flung him off into the forest.
Moegi saw this and ran out of the backyard, hoping to see him, but he was gone. "Oh, now where did he go to?" She went to walk but heard more singing behind her. The Mad Hatter and March Hare were celebrating again! Moegi walked off in a huff. "Silly nonsense. This is the stupidest tea party I have ever been to in all my life! That's it. I've had enough nonsense! I'm going straight home!"
Moegi started to walk through the woods, hoping she could find a path that could lead her to some sort of exit. Along the way, she ran into several strange animals. One of them was a creature that was nothing but a pair of glasses on legs, and another was a bird with a mirror for a face. She saw several horn-like creatures and frogs with drums for heads. In a nearby pond was a group of bird with umbrellas for bodies. "Excuse me!" she called to them. "Could you help me get home?"
But when the birds saw her, they glared at her, as if she was an unwelcome guest. Moegi smiled nervously and walked off. "Never mind."
As Moegi continued to walk, the sky began to turn very dark. The little girl looked about nervously, trying to find something that could give her a clue as to where to go.
Soon, she spotted a little group of furry creatures that pointed into the woods. Moegi looked up and gasped happily. "A path!" she cried. "Oh, thank you. I cannot wait to get home!" She started to run down the path, all while thinking about what she'd do when she returned home.
However, her happy mood disappeared when she ran into another odd animal. It was dog with a broom for a head, and it was sweeping the path away! As soon as the path was gone around Moegi's feet, she sat down on a nearby rock and pulled out her handkerchief. "Well," she said to herself, "I guess that...when one is lost, it is best to stay where one is until someone finds one. But...who would think to look for me here? Oh, if only I had never followed that rabbit man. I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it."
Moegi started to cry and didn't see all the animals gathered around her. They started to disappear as they cried, too, for they felt very sorry for the little girl. Once they were all gone, Moegi was all alone.
That was...until a large grin appeared in the sky. Moegi watched as the ground beneath her began to glow, and she looked up to see what was causing it. "Cheshire Sai!" she cried. "Oh, it's you!"
"Who were you expecting?" the cat boy asked. "Ebisu the Rabbit Man?"
"No, no!" Moegi sobbed. "I'm through with rabbits. I want to go home, but I can't find my way."
Sai laughed. "Of course you can't! That's because the only way around here is the Queen's way."
"...But I've never met any queens."
"...You haven't? YOU HAVEN'T?! Oh, Queen Temari of Hearts will be mad about you, simply mad! Hee hee!"
"But how am I to find her?"
"Well, some go to the right, some go to the left, but I like to take the shortcut."
With that, Cheshire Sai disappeared, and the tree below him opened to reveal a passageway. Moegi decided to follow it, for it was still light outside there. Inside was a large maze made of bushes, and when she reached the end, she could several card-like people with buckets of red paint. "Painting the roses red!" they sang.
"Pardon me, Sir," Moegi began, "but why must you paint them red?"
The cards stared at Moegi and gasped. One of them bent down to her level and said, "You see, we're the Queen's servants, her chunin so to speak. We planted these white roses by accident, so we're painting them red. The Queen likes them red!"
"Or else we'll lose our heads," the other two sighed.
"Goodness!" Moegi exclaimed. "Please, let me help you." She picked up one of the buckets and started to paint along with the others, singing and dancing about the bushes.
Suddenly, there came the sound of a horn. The cards jumped up and announced that the Queen was coming, and Moegi was thrilled that someone may be able to help her out. She and the cards threw the painting supplies away and laid themselves out on the grass while hundreds of other cards opened up a passageway.
Then came Ebisu running through the crowds. He blew on a horn and called, "Her Majesty, Queen Temari of Hearts!"
And the Queen herself appeared at the base of the crowds, enjoying the praise she got for her subjects. She paid no mind to the King at her side.
Ebisu rolled his eyes. "And King Shikamaru."
But the man got no praise.
Temari looked up and her face suddenly grew sour. She stomped over to one of the bushes and stared at a rose, for it was only half-red. "Who's been painting my roses red?" she asked. "WHO'S BEEN PAINTING MY ROSES RED?!"
The cards next to Moegi started to blabber on about who caused it, and they ended up blaming each other. For that, the Queen grew even angrier. "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!" she ordered, and the other cards took them away.
The Queen then looked down at Moegi. "And who is this?"
"It doesn't appear to be a heart or an spade," Shikamaru suggested.
"Why!" Temari cheered. "It's a little girl!"
"Why, yes," Moegi replied as she stood.
The Queen was still not happy though. "Stand up straight! Feet apart! DON'T TWIDDLE YOUR FINGERS!! Curtsy for me. Open your mouth a little wider and say, 'YES, YOUR MAJESTY'!"
"YES, YOUR MAJESTY!" Moegi repeated.
Temari nodded, finally satisfied. "Now then," she said rather calmly, "where did you come from, and where are you looking to go?"
"I was just trying to find my way."
"YOUR WAY?! IT'S ALWAYS MY WAY!! Um...do you play croquet?"
Moegi nodded. "Yes, Your Majesty."
"THEN LET THE GAME BEGIN!!"
Immediately, a deck of cards shuffled and dispersed out onto the playing field. King Shikamaru brought the basket of clubs and balls to the two players, only they weren't clubs and balls at all! They were flamingos and hedgehogs! Temari took her choice of the animals and set them out to play while the cards turned themselves into the passageways to score points. Temari sturdied herself and swung, completely missing the hedgehog, but the animal moved anyway. It rolled out to the cards, and they moved to allow it underneath. The entire audience of cards broke into applause. The Queen accepted the praise and moved on to hit again. This time, the cards moved into a straight line, and the last one was too slow. The hedgehog rolled right past it.
Temari was furious. "OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!" She then turned to Moegi. "Your turn."
Moegi smiled nervously and tried to settle her flamingo, but the bird kept moving about and causing a stir. The girl noticed that the Queen was getting angrier, so she finally grabbed the bird by the neck and smacked the hedgehog. The cards moved out of the way so she wouldn't score and laughed.
Temari was extremely pleased by this outcome. She turned to start her next turn, and Moegi saw a tail emerge from her body. It was Cheshire Sai sitting on her behind! "How goes it for you, Darling?" he asked seductively, still smiling.
"I'm not doing very well at all!" Moegi remarked.
"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!" Temari snapped as the cat boy disappeared.
"I was just talking to Cheshire Sai."
"He was right there!"
Temari frowned. "I'm warning you, Girl, if I lose my temper, YOU LOSE YOUR HEAD!!" She turned to try her turn again, and the cat boy reappeared.
This time, his smile was manic and crazed. "You know," he whispered to Moegi, "we could make her REALLY angry...Shall we try?"
"Oh, no, please!"
"But...it makes things so...fun..."
The cat boy stuck the end of the flamingo's beak underneath the Queen's dress and disappeared. When Temari went to swing, her dress flew up, and she tumbled over. Moegi cried out in fear as the cards surrounded the Queen, but it was too late.
"Someone's head..." she growled, "...WILL ROLL FOR THIS!!"
"Wait a moment!" the King begged. "Dear, don't you think it would be right to have a trial? Maybe just a little one?"
Temari thought this over and grinned. "Let the trial begin!"
Later, everyone gathered together for Moegi's trial. Queen Temari sat as the judge, and Moegi could recognize the members of the jury as the children she had seen running with Gai-sensei earlier. Ebisu came running through the room with his horn, and he read off the explanation as to why everyone was there.
"The young Moegi is charged with the crime of tempting the Queen into a game of croquet so she could irritate, annoy, torment--!"
"Get to the part when I lose my temper!" Temari commanded.
Ebisu straightened up. "THEREFORE, CAUSING THE QUEEN TO LOSE HER TEMPER."
"And now," Temari continued, "we have our sentence."
"But there can't be a sentence without a verdict," Moegi protested.
"SILENCE! Sentence first, then verdict. OFF WITH HER--!!"
"Excuse me, My Dear," Shikamaru interrupted, "but we have not called any witnesses to the stand."
Temari nodded. "Bring in the first witness!"
"Hanabi the March Hare!" Ebisu announced as the cards brought the rabbit girl into the room.
The Queen stared her down. "What do you know about this crime?"
And so, the members of the jury wrote it down.
"Udon the Dormouse!" Ebisu announced as the cards brought a tea kettle in.
Temari leaned in close and whispered, "What do you know?"
Udon popped up. "Twinkle...twinkle...little bat..." he replied lazily.
Temari glanced at the jury. "That's the most important piece of evidence we've heard so far."
Moegi rolled her eyes.
"Konohamaru the Mad Hatter!" Ebisu announced. The cards brought the boy in and set him down before the Queen.
"What do you know?" she asked.
"Nothing," the hatter replied. "I was at home drinking tea when the crime took place. Today is my unbirthday, you know."
"Why!" Shikamaru gasped. "Darling, today is your unbirthday, too!"
The Queen gasped in happiness and surprise as Konohamaru and Hanabi set out a tablecloth covered in tea kettles and cake. She blew out the candles as quick as she could, and the cake exploded into a present. She tore the wrapping paper off to reveal a new crown, which she excitedly placed upon her head.
Moegi gasped as the crown began to change. Sai was sitting on top of Temari's head in the most suggestive of positions. Moegi called out for the Queen's attention, but she was too stubborn. "He's right there!" she insisted. "On top of your head! It's Sai the Cheshire Cat!"
"CAT?!" Udon gasped as he ran about the court room. Konohamaru and Hanabi tried to slow him down, but he was far too crazed. The room was soon a big mess, and Moegi grabbed the jam in order to calm the mouse, but it instead flew into Temari's face. A banned fell down on top of her, and Shikamaru, mistaking her for the mouse, pounded on her head with Hanabi's hammer. Suddenly, everyone realized what had happened.
"SOMEONE'S HEAD WILL ROLL FOR THIS!!" Temari screamed as she tore the banner away.
Moegi reached into her pockets and pulled out the two pieces of mushroom she had taken from Hayate's place. She stuffed them both into her mouth and soon grew as tall as the room itself. Temari eased away from her, scared. "You...You must leave if you're going to be that tall!" she insisted.
"I am not leaving!" Moegi asserted. "I'm not afraid of any of you. As for you, YOUR MAJESTY, you're not a Queen! Your nothing but a fat, pompous, ugly, old tyrant!"
But, as soon as Moegi finished her sentence, she was back down to her normal size. Temari grinned and asked her to repeat what she had said.
What she didn't know was that Sai was still hanging out on her head. His devilish, psychotic smile was bigger than ever, and he stared at Moegi with wide, insane eyes. "She said," he began, still staring the little girl down, "that you're a fat, pompous, ugly, old tyrant!"
"OFF WITH HER HEAD!!"
Moegi ran out of the room as fast as she could and made her way through the maze out to the woods, but she found herself running in the caucus race instead! When she tried to get out of it, she was running down the table of the unbirthday party with Konohamaru and Hanabi pushing her into a cup of tea. She swam through the sea of tea and grabbed onto the nearest form of land she could. "Hayate!" she cried. "Please help me!"
"WHO ARE YOU?!" the caterpillar man asked as he exhaled the smoke from his hookah. The smoke wrapped around Moegi, and she was running down a long hall full of it. Up ahead, she could see Nagato and his door, and she tried to open it to no avail.
"I'm still locked," the redhead explained.
Moegi was on the verge of tears. "But I must get out! Please!"
Nagato laughed. "Silly girl, you're already out." His gray eyes popped open, and Moegi could see the image beyond the door.
"Why, that's me!" she realized. "I'm asleep! Moegi, wake up! Wake up, Moegi! Moegi!"
Sakura rolled her eyes. "Moegi, would you please pay attention and recite your lesson?"
The little girl immediately stood under the large tree on that hot summer's day. "Um...There was once a man named Zabuza and his assistant Suigetsu, and they were looking for a little girl...No, it was a boy...I think."
"What?" Sakura asked. "Moegi, what are you talking about?"
"But that's what I heard from Izumo and Kotetsu, and then Hayate the Caterpillar...?"
"Caterpillar?" Sakura repeated. "Moegi, you...Oh, never mind. Anyway, come along. It's time for tea." She nodded and walked out of the park towards home, Moegi picking up her cat and following her.
Before she left, Moegi took a look out at the tree where she had been sleeping. "Maybe," she said to herself, "logic and sense exists for a reason. What do you think, Kitty?"
"I have no idea what I trusted that villainous cat boy," Moegi sighed. "Oh, Kitty, I'm so glad you're not into cosplay."
And she set out for home where a nice, normal tea party was waiting.
Next: Haku as Kida (saving Rin as Kairi for last as the grand finale)