A laugh bubbled up from the Amethyst queen's delicate throat.
"Why, nothing of great importance. Dear, sweet Alice" She said, almost sickeningly sweet. She rose from the table and gestured to Alice.
Alice followed Aletha out of the dining room and along a glimmering Emerald corridor. Indeed, it must be that the entire palace was created by many shades of different gems, the perfect picture of wealth. After what seemed an eon, the pair left the emerald corridor by a gilt mahogany door, intricately carved.
Behind the door lay yet another room, and Alice began to wonder if her eyes were playing tricks on her. This room was unlike anything else she had seen, it was almost opposite to the rest of the castle.
The room was almost like a crater, the walls escalating steeply into a pitch black ceiling. The entire room was made of black obsidian that made loops and whorls up the walls and back down again, before finally swirling to a stop in the very center of the room. IN the center of the room was an ornate dais, which sat an odd contraption.
"Here is my greatest treasure" Aletha breathed, and Alice realized that she had quite forgotten the queen was there, she had been so enraptured in the room's odd configuration.
"What...What exactly is it?" Alice asked, following the queen as she moved closer. The contraption was a delicate machine, made of wire and some smooth silver metal unlike anything Alice had seen before.
"It is the key to the future, or rather, the past" The amethyst queen replied coldly, running her hand on one of the machine's silvery arms. Alice took a step back as Queen Aletha looked up at her harshly before smirking.
"You see, your first return to Underland didn't go as I had planned. You killed the Jabberwocky instead of letting it kill you, freeing the people of Underland. In a perfect world, you would have been killed along with every other monarch on that chessboard, leaving me to ascend the throne without getting my hands dirty" The queen prowled around the dais, the malicious smirk never leaving her prim lips.
"Y-you! you froze all those poor people! The Hatter, and the White Queen, and oh-" The Queen cut Alice off with a shriek of laughter.
"Hah! Yes, yes I did. don't you see now silly girl?I knew freezing them would bring you back here, so I was, ah- Helpless to do anything else"
Alice's stomach twisted at the Amethyst Queen's betrayal. How had this woman been allowed to go unchecked all these years? Surely someone could have stopped her...
"And you had your chance to stop me, oh yes you did. Yet, you changed your mind"
This had been her fault?
"I don't understand" Alice said calmly, trying not to provoke the Amethyst Queen's wrath.
"That fateful day, where I was brought forth for the White Queen's judgement. When I was accused of treason against my own sister!"
"Queen Aletha, you have been found guilty of crimes against the White Court, how plead you?" The White Queen Mirana's voice rang out through the large throne room.
A young girl knelt at the white queen's feet, sobbing.
"Guilty, but give me another chance, Sister! Please-"
"You will be banished henceforth to the outlying territories, never to return"
Alice shifted uncomfortably behind the White Queen's throne. The girl before them had indeed committed crimes, releasing information to the Red Queen, but she was too young, too young to be banished.
"Please, your Majesty" Alice said to the White Queen, pleading. "This girl has committed a crime, but isn't it wrong to punish her for an offense as mild as this? With proper guidance, she could learn from her mistakes"
The White Queen considered this, then nodded.
"Forgive me, Aletha. In my anger I have ruled unfairly, you will be kept under close guard from now on, but you will not be banished"
The Amethyst Queen looked at Alice with what must have been meant as gratitude, but a devilish smirk played across the young Queen's face as she was taken away, and Alice began to wonder if she had made a mistake...
"That was you!" Alice cried as she was shaken out of her vision. The Queen smiled, the very same smirk from years before playing across those sickeningly sweet lips.
"Yes, dear Alice. Don't you see? It was all your fault. Your voice of reason that kept me in power, and now look at what i've done" Aletha laughed.
"The White Queen and I did you a favor, and this is how you repay us?" Alice asked, angry tears stinging her eyes. The Amethyst Queen paused, fingering a metal loop of the machine.
"This plan was set in motion years ago, even before that. The hour grows ripe for my final action, and I intend to relish it"
Two crystal-like guards came out of the shadows with a length of chain with a metal bracelet attached. One grabbed Alice despite her struggles, and the other wrenched her arm away from her body, clapping the metal bracelet on roughly and chaining the other end to the machine.
Alice yanked in vain at the metal rings, but they didn't give way.
"Goodbye, sweet Alice" Aletha chuckled, flouncing out the door and shutting it behind her with an evil laugh.
A whirring noise began to come from the machine, and Alice renewed her attempts to free herself in vain. Fear pumped through her veins as a light began to radiate throughout the room, nearly blinding her as it got brighter. Alice fell against the pedestal, crying in earnest now. This would be how she would die, alone and chained to a fearsome machine. No Hatter to hug her, no Cheshire cat... Wait... That was it.
"Chess! Oh Chess, please tell me you can hear me!" Alice cried, sobbing. "Chess!"
"You called?" A velvety voice purred in her ear.
"Help me Chess!" Alice pleaded, holding out her chained wrist. The machine was shaking now.
"I'm sorry Alice, but this must be done" The Cheshire Cat replied.
"You're just going to leave me to die?" Alice cried in disbelief. The light was blinding now. Time was running out.
"No, no. You will not die, just travel" With that, the cat disappeared.
Alice sobbed harder than ever as she began to feel a wrenching sensation in her chest. She closed her eyes against the white light.
Suddenly, she felt as light as feathers, and then she was falling.
Alice fell for what seemed like a century, then she landed on something, hard. The wind was knocked out of her, and she coughed, still squeezing her eyes shut.
After she got her breath back, Alice cautiously opened one eye.
And could not believe what she saw.