Hatter and Alice in: Race for the Black Rose
Chapter Twenty Eight
Hatter held the rose in his hands, it was so hard to believe that something so beautiful could cause so much trouble. Alice looked at it with disgust. "It should be destroyed. A lot of people died trying to get it. If we don't destroy it now I'm sure they'll be more Aden's out there wanting to use it."
"Yes," Hatter agreed. The rose needed to be destroyed, no one should possess its power. He kneeled down on one knee, bringing his hand up he brought it down to destroy the rose, but was stopped suddenly by a hand that gripped him like steel. Hatter could feel that the evil of Aden had returned. Looking up he saw it now thrived in March.
"You will not destroy it," March grunted. His head was shaking so fast now it was a blur to Hatter's eyes.
"Your little trick didn't hurt me," he pulled Hatter up to stand. "It made me stronger, more powerful." He brought his hand up higher, actually lifting Hatter in the air, his legs kicked out at March, but the kicks were harmless to him.
"You did me a favor, Hatter. I feel better now than I've ever felt before." He shook Hatter back and forth. Hatter cried out in pain as he felt as if his arm was being pulled out of his socket. Reaching up March took the rose from Hatters hand. "I'll use this to kill off the Hearts, the Leon's, Corns and anyone else that has a claim to the throne of Wonderland. The next ruler is gonna be me. Everyone will be bowing to me, working for me, not the other way around."
"I will never bow to you," Hatter hissed through clenched teeth.
"Yes, keep up the fight, Hatter. I'm gonna have so much fun killing you, and bringing you back, and killing you again, and again. But your Alice, oh her death will be special. It will be slow and excruciating painful. She'll be my masterpiece."
Jack tried to help Hatter, but with just a look by March, he was thrown across the floor. Charlie as well as the other Suits tumbled after him.
March was relishing the energy given to him. "That fool Aden didn't even use half of the power he was given." Most men would have died, once the evil from the rose entered their souls. But March was not like most men. Instead of rejecting the power, he embraced it, savored it, and then became its master.
March's head suddenly tilted it to the side. He saw something in the room that was not visible before. "I can see you now," he drawled. "Yes, I didn't before, but with the evil that crawled in Aden a part of me now, I can see you clearly." Raising his head he shouted, "Show yourself."
The ball of light began to appear in front of Alice. Human shaped now, it floated protectively in front of her. Holding Hatter's right arm in a death grip, March dragged him behind as he stomped closer to Alice. Stopping in front of the shapeless figure, his head tilted from side to side. "You should have stayed dead, you can't save her now."
"I'm going to try my best," the shapeless creature sighed. The figure began to show features, Alice saw hair grow, and ears form, a blank face turned to look at her. As its eyes began to show, she took a small step forward. His eyes, she could never forget his eyes.
"Alice," a haunted voice murmured.
"Dad," she gasped. Tears began to flow down her cheeks as she realized that the ball of light that had been helping them all this time was her father.
"You can't touch her," Robert Hamilton hissed. He threw his arms to the side, enclosing her within his protective embrace.
"Oh, look at you trying to look so noble in front of your daughter. Did you know that he created me?" he told Alice. "It was because of his skillful hands that I am standing here today."
"That was the old Robert," he floated closer to March. "The Robert that was under the Queen of Hearts control, but he no longer exists. The real Robert Hamilton woke up, thanks to Alice."
"Woke up?" March screeched. "You're asleep now, you were awake when you worked for the Queen of Hearts."
Hatter dug his fingers deep into March's hand, as he tried to force him to release him. March shook him like a rag doll. "Keep still Hatter, I'll be getting to you later."
"I won't allow it." Robert began to float towards March. March held the rose in front of him. Robert clutched his chest as if in pain. "The rose has many uses," March croaked. "It controls time, but it also controls those frozen in time, spirits."
Robert struggled to get closer to March, each time March shoved the rose forward Robert jerked as if stabbed.
"Leave him alone," Alice choked.
A contented laugh rolled from March's chest. "Just the effect I was looking for. This day couldn't get any better." He held the rose up high, "That stupid Aden, he was thinking to small. Not me, I got big plans for this rose. I'm going to remold Wonderland in my image. Mad March, King of Wonderland, no now I'm thinking to small. I can use the rose to take control of the Oyster's world too. Yes, that's what I need to do, but first."
March pulled Hatter to stand in front of him. "You need a lesson on how to act before your future King."
Hatter began to laugh so hard, March nearly dropped him. "You, ruler of Wonderland, who's goin' listen to you? Just look at you, you're a joke. A big, bloody, rabbit headed jo…" Hatter began to choke as March's fingers wrapped around his throat.
"You think I'm a joke? We'll see who's the one laughing once I begin using the rose."
"Leave him alone!" Alice shouted. She wanted to help Hatter, but found that she just couldn't step forward. It was as if her feet were glued to the floor.
"Dad, help me," she begged him. But he did not answer her, he was as frozen as her feet. She searched the chamber, it seemed that even Cayto deserted them, he was no where in sight. She could hear Hatter struggling for breath.
"When I get free, I'm going to tear your head off," she screamed at March.
Keeping a tight grip on Hatter, March's attention was now on Alice. "I know now what I'm gonna do. I'm going back in time far enough to stop the original Alice from coming here. Stop her from upsetting the house of cards. I'll bring Wonderland back to her full glory, with me on top!" Hatter tried to pry March's fingers from his neck. He scratched and clawed at his hand, but he only squeezed harder. Hatter's vision began to fade, he could faintly hear March laughing.
"I gonna bring you to the brink of death, Hatter. So you could get a taste of what my life has been. Then I'll bring back the old Hatter. I need a man on my side, someone I can trust. Once I get rid of your Alice, you'll…" Alice saw March drop Hatter, he fell to the ground gasping for breath. Finding she could move, she ran to him. Once she reached him she saw an expanding spot of blood on his white turtle neck, something sharp was protruding from March's chest.
Moxie's voice could be heard from behind March. "Forget about me, sweetie?"
Clutching the sword she picked up with both hands, she drove it deeper into March's chest. "That's for my father, and Uncle and my brothers." She shoved the sword in as deep as it would go, then she put a small twist on it. "And that's for me," she sobbed. March fell forward, just missing falling on Hatter and Alice.
Moxie wiped the real tears from her cheeks. Tears she had not been able to shed from the day she heard about the deaths. She could see a pool of blood growing from under Mad March. The man that turned her world upside down was finally dead.
"Hatter, are you all right?" Alice asked him. He did not answer her, instead he reached out and pulled the crystal rose from March's hands. Pulling his hand up, he slammed the rose on the stone floor. It shattered into a thousand pieces. Hatter held his breath, he waited to see if they would come back together. Ten seconds, twenty seconds went by, yet still the rose remained shattered pieces on the chamber floor. He hung his head in relief and began to breathe normally, it was over, the rose was finally destroyed. And, thanks to Moxie, Mad March was just as dead as the Rose.
Robert Hamilton now stood before Hatter and Alice. "I had to set things right," he sighed. "I needed to help you, Alice. It was because of me you were brought here."
Alice helped Hatter stand, she slid her arm around his waist. "No Dad, don't apologize for bringing me here. If I didn't, I never would have met Hatter."
A sad smile parted Robert's lips, "Then I guess you could say it was all worth it." He slowly began to float back.
"Dad!" Alice cried out. She rushed to him, she didn't want to loose him again. Robert tried to avoid her eyes.
"Alice, I knew this would be the hardest part. Not fighting March, not watching you put into so much danger, leaving you again is the hardest part."
"Do you have to go?" she struggled to say the words, because she knew what his answer would be.
"You know I do, Alice. When I died, I had unfinished business. I'm just thankful I had a chance to do save you, save my Alice and the new man she loves. Now I need to go. If I stay any longer I won't have the courage to leave." He moved closer to her, his ghostly arms embraced her. "I want you to live a happy life, Alice. Listen to what your heart says, and never forget me."
Stepping back he saw Alice's eyes filled with tears. She unashamedly let them stay on her cheeks. "I love you."
Robert began to float to the three mirrors. Entering the first one he threw her a kiss, "I love you too, Jelly bean." He floated back into the mirror until he was gone. Alice let out a heavy sigh, she had to say goodbye to her father, twice. But the second time, it was special for he was a hero.
Hatter let out a tired sigh, "After all that, I think I'm going to sleep for a week."
"I shall sleep for two," Charlie said. Released from March's hold he joined Alice and Hatter. Jack walked up to Moxie.
He gave her a smile of thanks, "You saved our lives."
Moxie blushed from his praise, "I just did something that needed to be done for a long time." Moxie's cheeks blushed a deeper pink as Jack leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek.
"On behalf of Wonderland, I thank you."
"Let's get out of this Castle," Alice said.
"I second that," Hatter replied.
"Third, most assuredly," Charlie shouted.
On their way back up to the foyer of the castle they met an exhausted Lord Corn and Sir Leon. They didn't even ask what happened to the Rose, all they wanted to do was return to Wonderland. Entering the castle foyer the change there was miraculous. The castle's ragged curtains were now as fresh as the day they were made. The bright healing light of the sun that poured through the stain-glass windows replaced the darkness in the castle. Scenic depictions of hunts, and dancing filled the repaired glass.
"This is all well and good," Jack said. "But how do we get back to wonderland?"
His answer came when they heard a familiar whirling. Cayto stood at the foot of the stairs.
"Did anyone say they wanted to go home?" His moustache twitched as a large grin grew to touch each ear.
"Yes, please," Lord Corn begged. "My mother is going to be so mad I didn't get the Black Rose, but I don't care." Hatter saw him gently pat his coat. He could see several golden knifes and forks peeking out. It appeared that the Midas room had a few visitors.
"Yes," Sir Leon coughed. He hid a small sack behind his back, "The sooner the better."
"Very well." Cayto's cane twirled faster and faster, it also grew larger until it was the size of a man. Then it flew to them, in seconds they were all pulled into the cane. Hatter tightly held Alice as they flew into the spinning vortex. They felt as if they were flying, then seconds later they could feel solid ground under their feet. Opening their eyes Alice and Hatter could see that they were standing in the Knights kingdom.
"My home," Charlie sighed. "I never thought I would see it again." A large black crow flew to Charlie. Landing on his shoulder, it cawed in his ear and snapped at his hair.
"I am sorry Penelope," Charlie said. "But I was on a quest to save wonderland, you should forgive me for that." The Crow cawed one more time and flew to his hammock.
"Well I can't say how much fun that was not," Hatter said. Alice frowned not sure what he really meant. Looking at his expressive eyes, she was just thankful that they made it out of there alive.
"I want to thank you Hatter, for saving Wonderland." Jack stepped up, holding his hand out. Hatter shook it, he softly said, "Really didn't have much of a choice."
Jack smiled brightly, "Oh yes you did, and each time I believe you made the right one." He bowed his head to him in salute. "I have to say the first time I saw you, I was at first jealous, and them puzzled by what Alice saw in you. I thought you were just another common thief. Couldn't fathom why on earth Alice would want to spend her time with a vagabond, carpetbagger,.."
Hatter held his hands up, "Whoa there, you got my head spinnin' with your compliments."
Jack gently laughed, "Sorry, after fighting along side you I see I was wrong. You have the heart of a Knight, Hatter. If in battle, I would be an honored for you to fight by my side. Now if you'll excuse me, I still have a throne to claim." As they were talking Jack saw Lord Corn and Sir Leon sneak away. They were still contenders for the throne of Wonderland. The Black Rose may have been destroyed, but there was still a fight ahead for the next monarch. He was about to leave, when Moxie stepped in front of him.
"Grypht tried to play all the fields, but I wanted to let you know that I've always been in your court." She showed him her hand, "With Grypht gone the dance club is mine now. Whatever you need to become the next ruler of Wonderland, you have my backing."
Jack took her hand, and gently kissed it, "I thank you for that."
He held out his arm, "I would love to escort you back to Wonderland."
Moxie giggled like a school girl, she weaved her arm through his. "The honor would be mine." As they walked away she waved a goodbye to Hatter and Alice. The remaining Suits followed Jack, leaving Hatter, Alice, and Charlie alone.
Charlie rocked from heal to toe, he looked around, "Um, I was wondering what the two of you have planned."
Alice carefully studied Hatter. It seemed a lifetime ago that she left him on her rooftop looking so sad, so homesick in her world. Even though they went through so much danger in wonderland, she could see he was thriving here. She realized it was wrong of her to ask him to leave his home. There was so much here, this land was as it stated, a wonder. Before Hatter said anything, she took his hands in hers.
"Hatter, there comes a time for all birds to leave the nest." She squeezed his hands tight. "I'm sure my mother will understand when this bird leaves the nest. Of course the nest is in another dimension…"
Hatter became excited, he wanted to ask her but didn't dare. He knew what it took to leave his own land, he couldn't ask that of her. "Alice, you would do this for me?"
His answer came with a kiss. Wrapping her arms around his waist she hugged him tight, as she kissed him fully on the lips. He returned her passion with his own. Breaking off the kiss, he whispered, "You are the best hugger."
"I'll show you a hug." Her arms wrapped around him tighter. As they kissed Charlie began to slowly back away, his eyes trying to look anywhere but the passionate couple. Coming to his hammock his hands reverently touched it.
"Finally," he sighed. He picked up his rag bear.
"You have no idea how happy I am to see you." He hugged it to his neck.
"I missed you."
Placing the bear back on his hammock he began to take off his armor. A large smile grew on his face, the place was not going to be so lonely anymore. He now had company, and a cause to fight for, deciding the next ruler of Wonderland. He smiled brightly at the moustache that flittered in front of him.
"Thank you Cayto, for helping me save my new friends."
The moustache was replaced by a large grin, "You're welcome, Charlie. It did my heart sad to see you alone. I'm happy that I was able to help you, old friend."
The grin drifted away into the blue skies of Wonderland. Charlie sat down and patiently waited for Hatter and Alice to stop kissing. He glowed with pride, his closest friends were together, and most importantly they were happy. He couldn't wait to see what other adventures they would take him. Whatever dangers lie ahead, he knew that in the end they would prevail. And like Aden and Aurora, their undying love for each other would see them through.