LbN: First shot at an AiW story. Hope you like it!
The man being led to the chopping block was the worst kind of criminal—a violent one. So violent, in fact, that the king had been reluctant to tell his daughters the crime. They sat with him now, Iracebeth on his right, and Mirana on his left.
"Off with his head, off with his head," Iracebeth chanted.
"Iracebeth, please!" their mother said, taking a seat next to Mirana. "This isn't an occasion for joy. Can't you be more like your sister? She understands that this is solemn; and this is only her first time witnessing an execution."
Mirana slid forward in her seat a bit as the executioner raised his axe. A flutter of anticipation went through her as the criminal was killed. She watched as the head was retrieved and held up for the royal family to see. As they stood to leave, and she followed her father back into the palace, she was surprised to find she was shaking. Even more surprising, it wasn't out of fear, or repulsion, or anything you'd normally associate with having just seen a beheading.
"Mirana, dear, are you quite alright?" their mother asked. "You look as if you have Twifflewisps in your trousers."
"I'm…just a bit tired," Mirana lied.
"Did this upset you?" her father asked, concern washing over his face.
"Weak," Iracebeth muttered.
"Not everyone enjoys other people's pain, like you!" their mother snapped.
"It's alright. I…I think I'll go have a lie down." Ever the graceful princess, Mirana glided up the stairs to her room and locked the door. Her movement didn't stop. Her already fast pace quickened as she strode back and forth across her room, making it look like she was floating. She was thinking about the execution. About how the seconds seemed to slow when the executioner had raised his axe. About how the man's head had fallen away, as if it had been an autumn leaf leaving its tree. About how the deep red blood had run over the white cobbles, filling in the cracks and spaces the way Iracebeth's favorite squidberry syrup did over waffles. About the way all of Underland had gone still and silent and peaceful in the presence of impending death. It was gorgeous, artistic.
She had liked it.
"This won't do," she said morosely, finally sitting down. "One shouldn't enjoy the idea of death."
"One shouldn't talk to oneself either, but hewe you awe…" Iracebeth said.
Mirana jumped. Had she been less preoccupied, she would have noticed her sister lurking in the doorway, heart-shaped keychain dangling from her hand. "I'd like to be alone, Iracebeth."
"You shouldn't fwet," Iracebeth said, sitting next to her anyway. "I enjoyed it as well. When I am queen, I shall put you in charge of punishing pwisoners. I'll let you towtuwe them to your heawts content."
"No," Mirana said, distressed.
"No?" Iracebeth jumped up and stamped her foot. "How dawe you? You shall if I command it. Besides, you like it."
"But it's wrong, Iracebeth!" Mirana insisted. "I don't want to hurt anything."
"You will!" Iracebeth jumped up and down and was turning red. "You will if I command it! You like hurting, and killing, and you will!"
Mirana stood and ran from the room. She flew quietly through the castle, trying to ignore the darkness that had crept up inside her—trying to make her sister's words untrue. She ran into her father, crying.
He wrapped his arms around her. "Mirana dear, whatever is the matter?"
"I told you we shouldn't have made her go," her mother said, stroking her hair.
"I want to make the Vows," Mirana said through her tears. "Call the Ministers, father. Please?"
"The Vows? But Mirana, it's only the reigning monarchs who normally make those. And not all of us do either."
"I know, but I want to."
"Listen…The Powers of Underland are mostly just large-scale humans, fond of wine and war and whoring—but they take vows seriously. Very seriously."
"I understand father," Mirana said, having regained her composure a bit. "I never want to hurt another living creature, so long as I am a royal of Underland."
The King and Queen looked at her for a moment.
"Very well," her father said. "Call for the Ministers."
Mirana turned to look up at the ruins as her champion yelled "Off with your head!" She had successfully hidden her giggle of joy when Alice had hacked the Jabberwoky's tongue out of its mouth. Anyone who'd seen her would've thought she was ill at the sight. However, she couldn't suppress the smile that came to her lips when Alice killed the blasted thing. Its head rolled down the stairs, followed, a moment later, by Alice.
Then something happened. A rush of power came over Mirana, and she realized that she again had the crown. "Iracebeth of Crims," she said, voice echoing over the clearing. "Your crimes against Underland are worthy of death. However, that is against my Vows." She paused for a moment, trying to think of an alternative punishment. "You are banished to the Outlands. No one is to speak to you or show you any kindness. You will not have a friend in the world."
"I hope your Majesty bears me no ill will," Stayne said.
"Except him. Ilosovic Stayne, you are banished as well."
He raised a knife, but Tarrant's expertly thrown pin made him drop it. "Kill me, Majesty!" he begged.
"But I do not owe you a kindness," Mirana said, turning her attention to the Jabberwoky. As she collected the blood for Alice, she breathed a sigh of relief. The urge to destroy—to kill—was subsiding. She'd resisted her darkness once more.
LbN: Send reviews! I'm thinking about doing some longer Alice stories. There's a poll on my profile if you want more!