Chapter 1:

So the Game Begins…

The weather was mild, cool and pleasant. The afternoon sun flickered lazily as the clouds floated across the blue sky.

One girl lay outside on such a glorious afternoon, her back against the cool grass, the sun drenching her pale skin in light. Her blue eyes were fixated on a sleek novel in her hands.

'Alice dismally continued haunting the cool forest, her fingers idly toying with the bottle in her hands.

"What is this thing?" Alice wondered aloud, turning the slim bottle up towards the light.

It was unlike anything she'd ever seen before. The bottle was delicately carved glass, its multifaceted surface refracting a shining rainbow of light. Its top was crafted into a delicate heart.

"What was even in this bottle?" Alice wondered absently, recalling the strange liquid that sloshed inside. Then Alice remembered how exactly she drank it.'

"That stupid, perverted hare!" The young girl snapped the book shut, her mind in a tumult over the very thought. "I thought it was bad that the rabbit guy kidnapped her, but to make her drink it through a kiss?!"

She shivered in disgust. If a man ever did that to her, she would certainly beat him senseless. By no means would she allow anyone to subject her to that sort of degradation without facing some sort of consequences!

'Oh… if my dear cousin heard such thoughts…' At the notion, a laughter soon escaped from her throat. Oh, how she could certainly imagine a terrible scolding! A proper young woman shouldn't be thinking such violent things. She already could hear her cousin yelling at her for just lying on the ground.

"Allysia Gale, why are you on the grass like some sort of bum?!"

Allysia nodded her head in absolute agreement. 'Yep, that's something Eclaire would say…'

Realization soon dawned over her, noting that the voice resonated from an actual person, not just from her own mind. This figure almost completely eclipsed the overhead sun, towering over her diminutive frame. Allysia titled her head up.

Lazily seating herself to a proper, upright position, she greeted warmly, "Hi there, Eclaire! Fancy seeing you here on a wonderful day as this!"

"Allysia, do not pretend like nothing's wrong. Honestly, I bought that dress just for you, and this is the thanks I get? Getting dust and dirt all over it?" Eclaire chided her sternly, her gloved hands firmly planted on her hips.

"You're just over exaggerating! It's perfectly fine." Allysia looked down at her navy blue dress, embroidered with a delicate lining of lace. It seemed spotless, and her white apron was still pristine and clean. Like Allysia would ever dream of getting it purposefully dirty. Eclaire would murder her if there was so much as a speck on the clothes.

Allysia never did like wearing such cutesy, lacy clothing. It always made her feel silly or uncomfortable, but she wore it to make her dear cousin happy.

She thought Eclaire always looked resplendent in such attire.

Allysia always thought she looked ridiculous.

"How I wish I could wear pants once in awhile…" she absently mused aloud, her blue eyes transcending towards the sky, not at all considering the ramifications for her words.

"Ludicrous! Absolutely and positively ludicrous! You are a young woman, and young women do not wear pants!" chastised her cousin, spittle raining over the brunette.

Hastily swiping away the stray droplets, Allysia challenged, "Why not? There are no rules against it. Doesn't it look comfortable, Eclaire?"

"Dear, you're so silly and naïve, Ally! There's nothing more preposterous. I cannot imagine a proper lady sporting trousers!"

'Perhaps that's because you're an inflexible, conservative prune.' She kept such thoughts to herself. Offending her elder cousin was the last thing Allysia wanted to do.

"Besides, Ally, you look simply darling! I knew those clothes would look cute on you!" Eclaire squealed in delight, her curly blonde locks bouncing. "There's only one problem… dear, there's grass in your hair!"

Before she could run to safety, Eclaire pounced, attacking her long brown locks and fussing with the white headband in her hair.

"I don't understand how you could let this happen! You have such beautiful long hair. You should take better care of it! I would give anything to have mine at such a length."

"Would you like to trade then?"

The blonde woman simply laughed, combing through Allysia's hair for any more anomalies from nature. The poor brunette could do nothing, but sit there. Sometimes long hair was such a pain…Sigh…

"Eclaire, can you please leave your poor cousin alone? She finally returned home and already you're harassing her over her appearance."

Allysia held her breath, her heart beginning to palpitate with joy. Could it possibly be? She turned her head to face the source of the voice.

A jubilant squeal burst forth from her lips. "Mother!"

The older woman smiled at the two girls, kneeling down to embrace her daughter.

"Ally, how I've missed you!" Her mother said with a tender squeeze. "How was your stay with your father?"

"It was fine, and he wished he could be with you right now," Allysia said cheerfully as her mother sat herself beside her.

"He better! I know his work requires him to be away from home for extended periods of time so I truly don't mind."

"So how was your trip?" Eclaire asked politely.

Allysia grinned and began to say, "Oh, it was pretty bo–"

"Hush, Ally! I'm not talking to you! I already know all about your trip through all those letters you sent me," the blonde girl snapped and turned her sweet face towards the elder woman. "It's been awhile since I've seen Aunty ever since she went off to enjoy her book tour! Just how was it?"

Mrs. Gale simply said, "Not as exciting as you think it was, Eclaire. I'm just happy to return home." The woman released a sigh of relief, her gaze suddenly attracted by the novel in Allysia's hand. A grin curled at her lips. "Ah, so you finally had a chance to read my book. I thought you'd never start!"

"Au contraire! I'm actually three-fourths into it, Mother," the young brunette stated with a wag of her finger, opening the book once again.

"Doesn't look like it. You barely seem one quarter in!" said Eclaire, leaning in to get a closer look.

"That's because I always go back and reread certain parts," she mumbled, her blue eyes tearing through the pages in search of something.

Struck by curiosity, Mrs. Gale appeared close to her shoulder, skimming through the pages.

Her grin only grew wider.

"In search for your knight in shining armor, honey?" she teased.

Allysia's heart suddenly pumped heat into her cheeks as she swiftly closed the book, fervently shaking her head. "W… why would I do that? Those kinds of guys are incredibly cliché! You know I'm not that kind of person to be into that silly stuff."

Eclaire rolled her eyes as Mrs. Gale chuckled in acknowledgment. They both knew the brown-haired girl's exact disposition on fairytales.

Allysia absolutely hated them.

"Even so, if I am correct, the one you are looking for is the knight of hearts. Do you think he's cliché?"

Allysia cried defensively, "Absolutely not! He is one of the reasons why I actually like this story! Everything from the tale Alice in Wonderland is given some sort of twist. The knight of hearts is certainly not your stereotypical knight."

"Yes, you're right. He's just some perverted psychopath," Eclaire callously blurted out, receiving a rather heated glare from her cousin. She quickly added, "But can I blame you, Ally? He's one of the most handsome psychos I've ever read!"

Her mother pointed out, "But you think every man in my book is exceedingly handsome."

With a delicate flush of her cheeks, the blonde girl swooned, "Well, it's true! They all sound so good-looking! You have no idea how jealous I am of Alice!"

"Well, it's not always about looks, cousin," Allysia said bluntly, her nose within the pages. "There are legitimate reasons why I like his character. I just feel as if I can identify with him more than any of the others."

Eclaire released a loud scoff. "In what way? Is it because you both are complete nutcases?" She swiftly sidestepped her cousin's assault, laughing at her failed attempt. "Personally I always preferred that Mad Hatter one! His character sounds incredibly dreamy…"

Allysia then took her chance to scoff. "You like every male character in the book. Yesterday, you liked the Cheshire Cat, the day before that you adored the twins, and the day before that you claimed that you were madly in love with the March Hare…" Now it was Allysia's turn to dodge, swiftly rolling out of the way of the blonde girl's assault.

"Eclaire, how unladylike of you! How could you try to hit me? Proper young women do not engage in such garrulous affairs. I can't even believe you, a little prim young woman, would like that incorrigible mafia boy…"

"Hold your tongue! A lady does not talk like that, and especially about my Hatter!" her cousin chided her severely, her face a flustered red. Eclaire allowed a quick calming breath to fly from her lips. "No wonder you haven't fallen in love or the other way around. It's almost impossible that attitude!"

The blue-eyed girl released an unladylike snort, accepting Eclaire's horrified glare with grace. "Love? As if I'll ever let that happen! That is just something people find in fairytales, cousin. They do not exist!"

"Don't say that! That's incredibly cynical, even for you!" said the blonde with a horrified gasp. "And to think you were already a rather gloomy, fatalistic one to begin with."

Before Allysia could even open her mouth to retaliate, her mother intervened. "Girls, stop fighting! Eclaire, please respect your cousin's views and not censure her. Allysia, hold your tongue and stop needling Eclaire. I just got home and wanted nothing more, but to spend time with my two favorite girls. All I get is a headache from your fighting. God, it's been far too long since you two seen each other… Can't you both set aside your issues and suggest something we all could enjoy?"

The two young girls stole a single glance at each other, Allysia's sapphire gaze capturing Eclaire's emeralds for a moment. They said in perfect unison, "How about a card game?"

Mrs. Gale clapped her hands together in agreement. "Splendid idea! Eclaire, why don't you run back home and grab a deck of cards? You should know where it is, right?"

The blonde female tentatively nodded her head, ravaging her brain for such info. Realizing she was standing there for a moment longer than she liked, she then trotted off. Only Allysia and her mother remained.

The sun was still very high in the sky, soaking them with its golden heat. The older woman glanced over to her daughter, seeing her bright blue eyes transfixed on the book while she lay back in the grassy floor. The two women remained completely silent, Mrs. Gale's gaze on her daughter, Allysia's on her novel.

Finally one spoke. "You know, your cousin is sort of right. Your view is rather pessimistic."

"Well, you always preferred honesty," she countered.

"I never knew you could be so brutal about it. Sweetheart, even so, you're far too young to be so negative about it. There will come a day when you would fall in love."

"I most certainly hope not!" Allysia cried in dissent. "These days love is twisted into something incomprehensible. It's a word that is overused, a form of manipulation to further one's selfish intentions. It's impossible for one to know true love. They just enamor themselves with the very idea, the lustful, visceral sensation. It's just a word you hear in fairytales."

Mrs. Gale blinked several times, regarding the young girl with curiosity evident in her eyes. Allysia's body was squared and tensed; her blue orbs retained a bitter, pensive gleam. Why was her daughter so cynical about love? Did something happen to make her that way? These were questions a concerned mother couldn't help, but wonder.

She thought better than to question her about it. There was no way even she could get Allysia to talk about her feelings. Once Allysia was ready to talk about her problems, she would talk. That much her mother was certain.

Mrs. Gale instead said, "I suppose so… you're not entirely wrong in thinking. There are many people who do not know what love truly is…"

Allysia snapped her head towards her mother, not at all expecting her to agree with her. The elder woman raised her gaze towards the sky. "You know, that is the premise of my novel - men saying they love a girl when they do not know what love is. You don't think poorly of that?"

"Actually that's one of many reasons why I enjoy your novel. The very idea perplexes me. How does Alice know what is true love?" The young Gale girl couldn't help, but ask.

"That's the eternal question, isn't it? How does any human know when love is true? If you ask me that, then you truly must have only read three-fourths of the book!" Mrs. Gale released a melodic laugh, sounding very much like a rising crescendo of twinkling wind chimes in Allysia's ear. "Now, it would be rude if I spoiled the ending for you, but I can tell you something that would make up for it. It's a secret about my novel that no one knows about. You promise not to tell anyone?"

Her brown-haired daughter fervently nodded her head.

"That's excellent to hear! Now here's my secret: my novel is actually based on a true story!"

Her mother waited in rapt anticipation for her response.

Only complete silence answered her as well as a few vacant blinks of Allysia's eyes. Finally, there was another reaction: she began laughing.

"Mother, you didn't have to go through such lengths as to make up a story! I don't mind that you didn't tell me the ending of the novel," said Allysia, still chuckling under her breath.

Mrs. Gale's brows knitted together in confusion, gazing at her with palpable perplexity. "But I'm not making it up…"

"Sure, mother! Then please tell me about your inspiration? What did you base it off from rather than using that creative mind of yours?" Allysia challenged.

Her mother shrugged her shoulders and began her explanation, "I… I used to have this friend of mine. She was consumed by her elder sister's death and would remain inside her house in perpetual mourning. No one could get her out. All she could do was drown herself in her memories, escape to the time she was most happiest with her sister. The one day, she told me she was taken away – to the magical place of Wonderland. Believe it or not, you are sitting in the exact location where she was taken."

"Then let me guess. She told you about her whole experience once she returned home, and after many years, you decided to write a novel about it," Allysia said skeptically.

"Why, yes actually. It helped that she had an excellent memory. I can also assure you years after she went and told me about her experience, she never went there again." Mrs. Gale looked at her daughter for a long moment, her orbs holding her daughter's gaze. "I suppose I'm not surprised you don't really believe me. I myself don't believe it happened sometimes, but I needed to write it. I just had to. No matter how farfetched it may seem."

"But why, Mother? Why did you go through all that trouble to write it? Why did you need to do it?"

Before Mrs. Gale could open her mouth to enlighten her, a blonde female bobbed towards her, her long gown swishing side to side as she moved.

"Aunty, I am so sorry, but I cannot find it anywhere!" huffed Eclaire, daintily wiping a pearl of sweat from her temples. "Perhaps you can help me?"

Mrs. Gale nodded her head, patting down her dress as she rose to her feet. "Now, Allysia, you promise to remain awake when get return with the cards? You do have a terrible habit of falling asleep out here."

"Yeah, yeah. I can keep my eyes open long enough for you guys to get back," Allysia said airily, shooing them away with a languid flourish of her hand.

Her mother smiled and quickly embraced her, hastily whispering a single phrase into her ear. "It's because they needed a permanent reminder, something that immortalized them long after I passed away."

Then like the wind, Mrs. Gale had left her side, following Eclaire off in the distance.

The young woman then settled herself back down on the glass, her eyes intent on the novel. She never heard anything so preposterous! She knew her mother never took her as a fool. Why did she say something so ludicrous? Wonderland does not exist.

'Or does it?'

Allysia waved the thought away, her eyes suddenly growing heavy, her vision beginning to blur.

"Mom and Eclaire won't mind if I take a quick nap…" Allysia thought with a yawn. "Won't mind at all…"

Then she felt herself slip away and fall into sweet unconsciousness, freeing herself of all other apprehensions that occupied her mind…

{ღ}~{ღ}~{ღ}

He moved quickly, stealthily through the forest. A forest far unlike his home. A forest he could not help, but remember.

His heart palpitated in unison to his ungainly steps, prodding forward in a consistent pace; his scarlet eyes alight with determination.

He prayed with his whole heart that fate would work in his favor, allow him this chance to see her.

But how was he to know that she truly was there? The possibility was for too slim, too unlikely. He still couldn't help, but hope.

Finally, he arrived at the edge of the forest. He nearly ceased breathing.

There she was. Not at all aging a single year, resplendent as he had seen her so long before. His heart skipped a beat as he approached her sleeping form, his elation uncontainable.

'I finally found you… Alice.'


Random A/N Notes: This fanfic has been haunting my mind for ages ever since I read the manga and heard of the game shortly after. I want the game so bad~!

So this chapter merely introduces my OC, Allysia. The next chapter is when the gears really begin to turn.

Anyways, thanks for reading~