Chapter Eight

The Frabjeous Day

The sun was beginning to rise. Mirana knew it was the Frabjeous Day. Yet, she was nervous. She was going to fight with the others. She watched the sunrise, looking down at the grounds of Marmoreal, smelling the morning air.

She looked at herself in the mirror. She hardly recognized herself with her long hair now that it had grown back since she had been so used it being short for all those years. She felt no need to hide it. She felt terrible about her fight with Alice last night. She dressed herself in something comfortable and went to look for her.

A handmaiden entered, curtsying.

"Your mother asks that you join her in the courtyard, Your Highness," she said.

"Tell her I am coming," Mirana replied.

She arrived to see the sun rising. Everyone had gathered in the White Queen's courtyard. A sense of fear and exhilaration filled the air. Nivens blew a gleaming gold trumpet to sound a summoning call that hushed the milling crowd. Mirana saw Alice and she gave her a small smile, which was returned.

"Who will step forth and be the champion for the White Queen?" he cried.

"I shall do it!" said Tarrant, stepping forward valiantly.

"You have poor evaporating skills," said Chessur, grinning. "I shall do it."

"I'll do it!" volunteered Mallymkun, waving her hat pin sword, bravely.

"I'll do it!" cried Tweedledee, brandishing a wooden sword.

"No, I'll do it!" said Tweedledum, doing the same as his twin.

Nivens unrolled the Oraculum and it showed the knight with long hair. Everyone fell quiet.

"No other slayer, no how," murmured Tweedledum.

"If it ain't Alice, it ain't dead," agreed Tweedledee.

All eyes turned to Alice. Mirana could sense the exact same feeling she had at the engagement party when Hamish proposed marriage.

"Alice," said the White Queen. "You cannot live your life to please others. The choice must be yours because when you step out to face that creature, you will step out alone."

Alice stared at the picture of the horrible monster that was winging its way toward her. She saw her golden hair flying as she wielded the Vorpal Sword, but she still couldn't imagine how it would feel—the thunk of the blade slicing into flesh, the scrape of its long sharp claws against her pale skin. She was not a killer. How could she kill anything…let alone Underland's most dreaded creature.

Overwhelmed, Alice ran out of the courtyard. Mirana was about to run after her to comfort her.

"Mirana," said the White Queen. "The choice must be hers to make. Let her solve this on her own."

Mirana knew it was Alice's choice. No word that she could say would change her mind. All she could do was hope that Alice would change her mind and step up to fight against the Jabberwocky. She knew Alice wasn't afraid to speak her mind, why should stepping up and fight for something that is right be any different?

"Mother," she said. "Alice is my friend and she needs me. She was good to me when I was alone in her world. A sure friend is known when in difficulty."

The White Queen smiled. She could tell she was so proud of her daughter. She nodded. Mirana took off towards the gardens, her pink hair flying behind her. Mirana found Alice sitting on a marble bench, crying.

"Nothing is ever accomplished with tears," a voice came from above. Alice lifted her tear-stained face and found Absolem hanging upside-down.

"Absolem?" she said. "Why are you upside-down?"

"I've come to the end of this life," he replied, softly.

"You're going to die?"

"Transform." It wasn't much of an answer, but his cocoon was nearly finished.

"Don't go!" she pleaded. "I need your help. I don't know what to do."

"I can't help you if you don't even know who you are, stupid girl."

Alice was angry. "I'm not stupid! My name is Alice. I live in London. I have a mother named Helen and a sister named Margaret. My father was Charles Kingsleigh. He had a vision that stretched halfway around the world." Alice paused, realizing what she was saying. It felt like an epiphany dawning upon her. All she needed was her father's strength and vision and faith in himself. Slowly she said, "I'm his daughter. I'm Alice Kingsleigh."

"Alice," said Absolem. "At last…you were just as dim-witted the first time you were here. You called it 'Wonderland'."

"Wonderland…" Alice echoed. She began to remember her dream with all of its details. Young Alice in Wonderland…Alice in the room of doors, Alice with the Cheshire Cat, Alice at the mad tea party…Alice with the Red Queen and Playing Cards, painting the roses red…young Alice with the caterpillar…

"It wasn't a dream," Alice burst out. "It was a memory! This place is real! So are you, the Hatter…Mirana!"

"And the Jabberwocky," Absolem reminded her. "Remember, the Vorpal Sword knows what it wants. All you have to do is hold onto it. Fairfarren, Alice. Perhaps I shall see you in another life."

He disappeared inside his crystal chrysalis, swallowed up even more than when he vanished with his smoke.

"Alice?" Mirana called. "Are you alright?"

Alice wiped the last of her tears, not wanting her to see them and answered with a nod.

"I know what I must do," she said.

"And so do I. You were right, Alice…and I'm sorry I was so rude yesterday."

Alice smiled. "You're forgiven." The girls hugged each other.

"Come…there's little time. We must get you into your armor."

The girls took off in a run to prepare for battle. The servants placed the armor on Alice and Mirana handed her the Vorpal Sword and her shield. Next, the servants dressed Mirana up in armor that the finest blacksmiths had made for her and handed her a sword. On the armor was the crest was a single rose with a crown.

"What's this?" asked Mirana.

"Your crest, Your Highness," said the blacksmith. "We crafted it special since you will be Queen."

"It's wonderful." She touched it with her fingers. "Thank you." The blacksmith bowed.

The girls went out to the courtyard, mounting their steeds: Alice on the Bandersnatch and Mirana on a white horse. Once they arrived, there was a rousing cheer from the crowd…their champion had arrived.

XXX

Mirana rode next to her mother, her pink hair tied back, flowing in the wind. They marched towards the battlegrounds, which was barren with dead trees, the floor was crumbling black and white, resembling a giant chessboard and towards the sea was a crumbling ruins, possibly once a castle that once stood many years ago.

Mirana watched in the distance as thousands of Red Knights approached, red banners fluttering over their head and the Red Queen was carried in a scarlet coach by several Red Knights. The Red Queen herself got out, holding her arm out automatically for Stayne to help her out.

The White Queen dismounted her horse and went towards the center, face to face with her sister. The Red Queen stood proudly with her head held high, her eyes glittered with hatred as her sister approached.

"Hello, Iracebeth," said the White Queen.

"Hello…" she replied, coldly, with her eyes gazing elsewhere, refusing to make any eye contact with her. "Mirana."

Nivens blew his trumpet, which echoed throughout Underland.

"On this, the Frabjeous Day," announced Nivens. "The Queens, Red and White, shall send forth their champions to do battle on their behalf."

The White Queen stared at her sister with teary eyes. "Oh, Racie," she whispered. "We don't have to fight."

Iracebeth's eyes softened at the sound of her childhood nickname.

"I know what you're doing," she said spitefully. "You think you can blink those pretty little eyes and I'll melt just like Mummy and Daddy did."

"Please," the White Queen implored sweetly, holding her hand out as an offering to make peace as she had done for many years.

"NO!" she shouted. "It is MY crown! I am the eldest! I am the rightful Queen!" She turned away. "JABBERWOCKY!"

The White Queen looked as though her heart had been smashed into a thousand pieces. Many years of trying to make peace with her sister were gone. She was through with doing so.

Once it had heard its mistress's call, it rose from the dark. It was like something out of a nightmare. The Jabberwocky's vast wingspan blocked out the sun and darkened the clearing. It swung it reptilian head, studying them all with small, glistening eyes. Its long, spiked tail whipped across the dry ground. It extended one long, deadly claw and began to walk.

Alice stared, unable to contain her fear. "This is impossible," she whispered to Tarrant, standing beside her.

"Only if you believe it is," he replied.

"Sometimes, I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast," Alice said.

"That's excellent practice," Tarrant agreed. "However, just at the moment, you really might want to focus on the Jabberwock."

"Where's your champion, sister?" asked the Red Queen sneered.

Alice stepped forth dressed in armor and holding the Vorpal Sword, bold. She was ready.

"Good luck," Mirana whispered to her. She kissed Alice on the forehead. "May no evil dare harm who hath been kissed by a Royal."

"Thank you," she whispered back.

"Hello, Um," the Red Queen said, disdainfully.

The Jabberwocky hissed with pleasure. He slithered towards Alice, opening his slavering jaw and roared. She held tightly onto the Vorpal Sword as she approached the Jabberwocky, which loomed about ten feet over Alice.

"Sssso, my old foe," it hissed in a horrible voice that could make one's skin crawl. "We meet on the battlefield once again."

"We've haven't met," she said, attempting to sound brave.

"Not you, insignificant bearer," said the Jabberwocky, casting a scornful glace. "My ancient enemy, the Vorpal one."

"That's enough chatter!" Alice commanded.

Suddenly, Alice swung her arm hard and startled, the Vorpal Sword slicked through the Jabberwocky's forked tongue. It flopped to the ground, wriggling slightly, making Alice jump out of the way in disgust. The White Queen held back her urge to vomit.

Alice felt triumphant when the Jabberwocky's spiked tail whipped around and knocked her to the ground. Alice barely kept her grip on the Vorpal Sword and her breath was knocked out of her. She lay still for a moment, but she got up. Suddenly, the Jabberwocky breathed purple electric fire, to which Alice lifted her silver shield. The Jabbewocky swiped its long, curved claws at her and she deflected them with a clang of her sword.

Alice swung the sword in a wide arc and attacked with fury. Surprised by her fierceness, the Jabberwocky jumped back and then lashed out in defense. Now the battle had really begun. Alice whirled, distracted, and claws scraped down the back of her armor, knocking the Vorpal Sword out of her hands. The Hatter stepped in and stabbed the Jabberwocky in the tail, causing him to turn and roar.

"The Hatter's interfereing!" howled the Red Queen. "Off with his head!"

Stayne drew his sword and ran towards Tarrant, who promptly drew his own sword to fight back. The well-ordered duel between champions erupted into a full scale battle. Alice and the Jabberwocky at the eye of the storm.

Mally leaped onto Bayard's back and together, they leaped at the JubJub Bird, wielding teeth and hatpins against its deadly talons. The Jubjub Bird forced itself to land since it had been blinded by Mallymkun's hatpin. It spread its wings and approached menacingly. Mirana ran towards the bird, her pink hair flying behind her and sliced its head off; little blood spurted onto her cheek.

But in the crux in the battle was still between Alice and the Jabberwocky, and she didn't have time to watch her friends to make sure they were all right.

Alice attacked the beast with fierce thrusts, swipes, and uppercuts. But the Jabberwocky was no easy opponent. It swiped at Alice and hit her, knocking the Vorpal Sword out of her hand. She landed with a grunt at the bottom of a staircase. She quickly picked up the sword and raced up the stairs, hiding behind a column. The Jabberwocky's long, scaly neck snaked past her only of a moment, and she seized the moment to leap on his back, pulling herself up his sharp, scaly scales. She could feel them cutting into the armored gloves. The Jabberwocky twisted and snapped, trying to shake her off.

The Vorpal Sword nearly wrenched itself out of Alice's hand in its relentless pursuit of the creature's head. Alice could barely keep her grip on it. With one final snap of the Jabberwocky's neck, Alice flew up in the air.

Mirana watched as Alice flew through the air and raised the Vorpal Sword above her head, and she yelled that echoed:

"OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!"

With one powerful thrust, Alice sank the Vorpal Sword into the Jabberwocky's neck; there was a sickening slicing noise of metal through flesh and a spurt of purple blood. The Jabberwocky's body tumbled down the cliff and its head bounced down the steps of the crumbling monument in a series of sickening thuds and landed right at the feet of the Red Queen. The Queen's lower lip quivered and her eyes tearing up at the sight of her darling pet dead.

Alice came down the steps, exhausted but triumphant from the battle.

"KILL HER!" bellowed the Red Queen, pointing her scepter at Alice.

"We follow you no more, Bloody Big Head!" said one of the Red Knights.

"How dare you!" she snapped. "Off with his head!" she pointed her finger at him.

There was a long silence and suddenly, the Red Knights dropped their spears in waves of metallic clangs and the Red Queen stared in shock at what was happening. She stamped her feet furiously. Suddenly, the Red Queen's crown was magically pulled off her head and floated through the air. Her shrieks grew even louder and she tried to grab for it, but it wafted up into the sky. For a moment, it glinted in the sun and it transformed into a silver crown with pink jewels with roses surrounded by intertwined vines. Chessur suddenly appeared and handed the crown to the White Queen.

"Iracebeth of Crims," said the White Queen. "Your crimes against Underland are worthy of death." She paused. "However, not only it is against my vows, it is not my decision to make."

She turned towards Mirana, whose hair had fallen loose from the intense battle with a smear of blood on her cheek. All eyes were upon her when the White Queen approached her daughter and placed the crown upon her head. Mirana closed her eyes, feeling a warm breeze all around her and a sense of power inside her coursed from the crown on her head to her fingertips to the tips of her toes. Mirana opened her eyes and stared at her subjects who suddenly kneeled before her, whispering in waves of 'Your Majesty'. Even Stayne fell to his knees and bowed his head. The Red Queen continued to hold her ground, holding her head high.

"It's up to you now," the White Queen whispered. "The reign of the Rose Queen begins." She announced to all.

Mirana walked towards the shocked Red Queen, feeling brave. She took a deep breath, feeling the queenly power within her.

"Iracebeth of Crims," she said, repeating the words her mother had spoken earlier, letting all her subjects hear her. "Your crimes against Underland are worthy of death." She paused. "However, a wise man I once knew told me: when one has no forgiveness in their heart, living is the cruelest punishment than death. You are hereby banished to the Outlands. No one shall ever speak to you. No one is to show you any kindness. You will not have a friend in the world."

She stepped towards her aunt, staring at her. Mirana lowered her voice so that no one could hear her.

"I'm going to forget you from this day forward and never think of you again," she whispered. "But I hope that you will think of me every day. I want you to remember my kindness because it will be the last you will have from me."

Iracebeth said nothing, her bottom lip was quivering slightly and surprisingly, Mirana saw tears springing from her eyes, which she futilely tried to hide. There was a long silence between the two Royals.

"Your Majesty," said Stayne, stepping in. "I hope you bear me no ill will."

Mirana just stared at him. "I once remember a man with a heart-shaped patch that tried to murder me in a distant past," she said. The subjects all gasped in horror at what was said. "You will join Iracebeth in banishment as well. You will remain with her until the end of Underland."

A Red Knight bound Iracebeth's wrist to Stayne's wrist as well. Stayne went pale, trembling with terror.

"At least we have each other," said Iracebeth, lovingly, batting her giant eyes.

Suddenly, Stayne drew a dagger out of a secret compartment in his armor and raised it to kill Iracebeth, who gasped in terror. With a flash of light, Tarrant threw his scissors from his coat and it pierced Stayne's hand, causing him to drop the dagger.

"Majesty!" he yelled, desperate. "Please! Kill me!"

"I do not owe you any kindness," she replied, coolly.

"Take off my head!"

Knights dragged the unfortunate pair away. As they vanished into the woods, everyone could hear Iracebeth screaming at Stayne.

"You tried to kill me! HE TRIED TO KILL ME! He tried to kill me!"

All at once, Tarrant burst into an enthusiastic dance:

"Oh, Frabjous Day!" he sang happily. "Calloo! Callay!"

Once the dance was over, everyone clapped. The White Queen approached the body of the fallen Jabberwocky, catching every drop of its blood in a vial, holding back her nausea. She stood up and handed it to Alice.

"The blood of the Jabberwocky," she said, handing it to Alice. "You have our everlasting gratitude, Alice. And for your efforts on our behalf, I give you this." She handed the vial to Alice.

"Will this take me home?" she asked.

"If that's what you wish."

She approached Mirana who stood tall in her crown, smiling. The friends looked at each other.

"There is one thing I must do, now that I am Queen." She announced to all of her subjects. "In Aboveland, there is a tradition that Royals do when an important person has done a noble deed, which is called knighting. I will knight our champion. Take a knee, Alice." Alice kneeled. "The Vorpal Sword, please." She handed it to Mirana. She held it firmly in her hands and spoke for all to hear.

"Let all of Underland remember this moment from this day forward until the end. Let the name of the champion be written in history. Let it be shouted in the mountains and whispered among the trees and flowers. Let her be remembered until the end of Underland."

She took the Vorpal Sword and laid it upon Alice's shoulders. "With the power vested in me by the Royal Crown of Underland, I dub thee, Lady Alice Kingsleigh, champion, slayer of the Jabberwocky, hero of Underland, and noble subject of my court. For all you who have witnessed this event, may you remember Lady Alice Kingsleigh and pass it down to generations yet to come." She looked at her friend. "Rise."

Alice rose to her feet and smiled with gratitude. With a single motion, Mirana bowed to Alice and all followed in suit.

"Thank you, Your Majesty," Alice replied.

"Please…call me Mirana," she replied, remembering the childhood memory of their first meeting, which they both smiled.

Alice opened the vial.

"You could stay, you know," said Tarrant.

"What an idea," said Alice. "However, there are questions that need to be answered. Be back again before you know it." She paused. "Hatter, why is a raven like a writing desk?"

"I haven't the slightest idea myself," he replied. "Fairfarren, Alice."

She drank the potion and watched as everyone turned to smoke.

XXX

Alice woke up and found herself in a hole at the bottom of the tree. She found Mirana's ragged clothes lying next to her. Indeed, her friend was gone, but Underland was where she belonged. For the longest time, she always knew that Mirana didn't belong in this world. She smiled and stood up, climbing out of the hole. Her blue dress was muddy, her hair had fallen loose, and the Bandersnatch's scratch remained on her arm. She marched towards the garden, where she knew everyone was waiting for her.

When everyone saw a bedraggled Alice appear, they stared.

"Good Lord, Alice!" said her mother. "What happened?"

"I fell down a hole and hit my head," she answered. She approached Hamish. "Sorry, Hamish," she said. "But I can't marry you."

Hamish went green in the face.

"I love you, Margaret," she said to her sister. "But this is my life. I'll decide what's best for me." She looked at Lowell, her sister's husband. "You're lucky to be married to my sister. I'd be good to her."

She turned to Aunt Imogene. "There is no prince, Aunt Imogene. You need to talk to someone about these delusions."

To the Chattaway twins, "You remind me of two funny boys I met."

To Mrs. Ascot, "I happen to like rabbits, especially white ones." She remembered that Mirana was gone. "By the way, your scullery maid won't be returning. She's gone home."

"You've forgotten me," said Lord Ascot.

"Not entirely," said Alice. "You and I have business to discuss." She turned towards the Ascots' mansion. "Oh, and by the way…" She lifted her skirt and did the Futterwacken dance, much to the shock and amusement of everyone and marched towards the house.

XXX

Once inside, Alice looked at her father's plans and map.

"My father said that he planned to expand his company as far as ( )," Alice said. "I don't think he was looking far enough. Why not go all the way to China? It's vast, the culture is rich, and we happen to have business there."

Lord Ascot was impressed with Alice's knowledge and confidence.

"I thought you were going to be my daughter-in-law," said Lord Ascot. "But now I think I would like to have you as my apprentice."

XXX

Alice was leaving England with her father's company to China. However, she had a promise to fulfill. She stopped by the cemetery with a bouquet of flowers, approaching a grave that read THOMPSON. Two names: Winifred and Morris. She laid the flowers on the grave with a pink lock tied around it.

"Your daughter sends you her love," she said.

She went towards the dock, ready for a new adventure. While standing on the ship, she saw that a blue butterfly had landed on her shoulder. She looked at it for a moment and recognized him.

"Hello, Absolem," she whispered.

XXX

Coming soon...THE ROSE QUEEN, the sequel.