I do not own the characters.

Iracebeth, Red Queen of Crims had enough. No sooner did she walk away that someone had the audacity to steal some of her treats. Tea had been set up for her in the garden and she had stepped away to admire her red roses. Sure enough, three of her Cranberry Tarts went missing. Bristling with anger, Iracebeth shouted to the lead red card soldier to round up the servants. She planned on how she was going to make an example of the culprit as she walked to her throne room with her court in tow.

After the Red Queen brusquely threw open the double doors to her throne room, she yelled.

"SOMEONE has stolen three of my TARTS!"

She stood at the entranceway of her throne room for a moment. Seething, she held her roiling anger in check but barely as her fingers twitched in rage. Fuming, her nostrils flared slightly and her face strained as she held her arms tensely by her side while she thought how to get to the bottom of this. She was not going to let this go unpunished.

Her imperious voice had echoed loudly in the room making those who tended to be anxious in her presence much more nervous. It put everyone on alert even her entourage that stood behind her and gave her more space.

She paused several more moments as her eyes darted around before she proceeded. Standing at attention on both, sides of the red carpet walkway were servants, the frogmen. They were notorious for stealing and as usual the prime suspects.

They were untrustworthy as far as the Red Queen knew but they were her servants. She strode in over the black and white marble floor where her footsteps were the only sounds, which currently brought terror to the green amphibians. Even the other servants and courtiers gave her wide berth as they watch her ominous approach.

"Did you steal them?" she asked firmly to the first frogmen, as she abruptly stopped.

Standing at attention like a soldier, his bulging eyes dared not wander and stared right in front of him. All he could see was her maroon skirt covered with golden hearts.

"No your majesty," he gulped fretfully.

"Did you?" she asked to the next frogman.

"No your majesty," said the second frogman, on edge.

"Did you steal them?" asked the Red Queen pointing her scepter in front of the third frogman's face.

"No your majesty," squeaked the third.

Saying nothing, she went to the next frogman and stared at him. His bulging eyes blinked nervously and gulped. He stood ready for her questioning but she never spoke.

The Red Queen had enough of thievery. One thing she could not and would not stand for was pilfering, especially her favorite pastry, Cranberry Tarts. It was an insult and she took it as a personal affront. It wasn't fair that this injustice would be borne by her. She never asked for this.

As a ruler, she had provided these servants a means to subsist. And this is how she was rewarded, by having thievery heaped upon her. What would they be if she had not employed them? No doubt, still living perilously short lives in the swamp. Such ingrates was all the Red Queen could think of right now. She wanted to have them all executed.

The Red Queen could be asking the frogmen all day long and suddenly she was no longer in the mood. This was not her job to question in the first place. Her job was to govern. Was she not the Red Queen of Hearts? She had no time for such chicanery when she preferred to be amused. Then she had an idea and hastily turned around, and started to leave. The guilty part would surely be punished she vowed.

When the fourth frogman saw her walk away, he sighed. But he quickly misjudged the situation and he involuntarily let out a small burp followed by a gulp. Normally those sounds would barely be perceptible. Because everyone was quietly at attention, any sounds however small would resonate about the room. Moreover, the highly polished marble floor made his innocuous sounds reverberate even longer. This gave pause to the Red Queen but she did not rush to turn back, instead she slowed her pace.

The frogman already nervous thought she did not catch his noises and gave out another unintentional burp but out of sheer nervousness.

This time the Red Queen stopped and doubled back until her eyes fell upon the frogman in question. Towering over him, she silently studied him. His eyes were rapidly blinking and he could not avoid her stare.

Bending down, she placed her hands on her knees to have a better look. His eyes could not hide from hers. There was no escaping her all encompassing gaze. The longer she remained quiet the more he gulped while his eyes darted uncontrollably. The silence was so deafening that it proved to be too much for him to bear, and he continued to gulp nervously. The Red Queen gave out a knowingly smile.

"Did you steal my tarts?" she asked almost in a whisper with a motherly tone.

While initially her anger was quick to discharge violently, it had a tendency to flare up sometimes just as explosively if not more deadly a second time around. This time though, she felt a cold fury build in her. It took considerable patience but it was paying off as she watched the frogman turn a paler shade of green.

The frogman responded with a combination a gulp and burp. His mouth quivered and then a small amount of maroon liquid trickled from one corner of his mouth. Desperate, he almost wanted to stick out his long tongue to wipe his mouth but fought that impulse. The problem was he had a few more morsels of the Cranberry Tarts in his mouth. He weighed his options and finally gulped it down in the presence of the Red Queen.

"No your Majesty," he finally said.

Too late, the Red Queen took her index finger and sampled the incriminating maroon liquid. Not bad, she mused as she savored the taste. Cranberry juice with frog. She had never considered that combination before and decided she would have to consult with the chef.

"It's cranberry juice," she announced in a matter fact tone and stood up.

Seeing and hearing all she needed, she turned her attention to the lead red-card soldier.

In sheer desperation, the frogman broke rank and pleaded. "I was so hungry," he confessed. "I didn't mean to . . ."

The Red Queen could not be bothered and addressed the soldier. "Off with his head!" she shouted.

"My family . . ." he implored, as he struggled futilely against the red card soldiers. "Oh please . . . please. I have little ones to look after."

Walking away, she announced to the fishman who trailed behind her.

"Go to his house and collect the little ones . . . I like tadpoles on toast almost as much as I like caviar," she chuckled.

"Yes your majesty," he said.

"Along with some cranberry jam," she added almost laughing.

"Yes your majesty," he said and bowed away as the Red Queen was making her way up the steps.

He came back a moment not too late as she just sat down on her throne when she issued her command.

"Drink!" the Red Queen commanded.

On cue the fishman, proffered the cranberry juice with a straw and held it as she bent down to the straw. Whetting her thirst, she took a few sips and he took the glass away as soon as she lifted her head. He was well aware of her routine and quickly left.

Her mind went to the next order of business. It had been a taxing day already and she wanted to alleviate her stress. She wanted something extra special to make up for the demanding day. Something to pamper herself she considered. Perhaps a foot massage or better yet a sumptuous bath followed by a foot massage. She deserved that small comfort after being bothered. However, her thoughts were intruded when she heard a rustling sound to her right.

Coming from the side of her throne, behind a set of curtains was a man with a red heart-shaped, eye patch who slinked next to the Red Queen.

"Majesty," said the male voice, mildly seductive.

Turning her head in that direction, the Red Queen instantly smiled in recognition and lovingly extended her arm.

"Illosovic Stayne, you *knave*," she said in a low sensual voice. "Where have you been lurking?"

Stayne drove her crazy at times and right now, it was working as he planted a soft kiss on her hand. The Red Queen loved that mouth of his on her body as she let him kiss her fingers. Ever since her ex-husband was out of the picture, she did not hide her affections for the Knave of Hearts.

Iracebeth had known Stayne before when she and her younger sister, Mirana were still princesses. However, when Iracebeth married, she could not be seen with him. Stayne understood and did not take it personally. Instead, he set his sights on Mirana. However, that proved to be a short-lived endeavor and he came back to Salazam Grums to serve the Red Queen.

The Red Queen recalled how she used to blush horribly at the things he said he wanted to do to her when she was a princess. Even in her youth, she was not the type to blush easily but he certainly had a way with words.

However, the Red Queen did not blush anymore as he continued to kiss her fingers one by one and slipped a small amount of his tongue for extra measure. Producing the effect that he desired, he elicited a seductive smile from her. Drawing his attention further, she pressed her lips together almost blowing a kiss to him.

She looked forward to experience what he had to offer but she in turn liked to surprise him just as well, and winked at him. Normally, he would continue his passionate advance until it escalated and they had to go elsewhere. This time though, he stopped short and Iracebeth looked askance at him wondering what was the matter with him. They were completely alone.

"Majesty, I have found the Oraculum," Stayne announced slowly.

Somewhat disappointed at the interruption, she could not quite believe that this careworn scroll was more important than what they were attempting to do. However, she humored Stayne.

"That looks so ordinary, as I recall," said Iracebeth indifferently almost sounding bored.

"If you look here on Frabjous day," said Stayne, as he pointed to the Oraculum.

Peering closely, she was stunned. "I'd know that tangle mess of hair anywhere . . . Is that Alice?" she asked rhetorically.

"I believe it is," he said carefully.

"What is she doing with my darling Jabberwocky?" asked the Red Queen, as she studied the scroll even closer.

She wasn't sure if her mind was playing a trick but it appeared that Alice was fighting her prized pet with a sword. Incensed, she thought she had seen the last of that irritating child.

"Yes . . . She appears to be slaying it," said Stayne in a matter of fact tone and stood at arms length.

He knew her well enough to surmise Iracebeth's mood swing to see that a new storm was about to erupt and stood by the edge of her throne.

"She killed my Jabber-baby-wocky!" shouted Iracebeth in shock and groaned inwardly.

Not her favorite, beloved pet. Her darling pet. Her Jabberwocky. How could anybody want to hurt her much-loved pet?

"Not yet, but it will happen if we don't stop her," said Stayne, as he tried to pacify the Red Queen.

Concern was evident on her face and he knew it as he treaded cautiously around her. Sometimes when she became highly agitated, she would issue absurd commands and he dreaded those moments. As much as he loved this tempestuous woman, sometimes she tried his patience and he put up a valiant effort with her petulant outbursts. However, the truth of the matter, he knew why he put up with her and grinned inwardly. She was certainly a far cry from the loopy, ice princess he failed to charm. Several words came to mind to describe Iracebeth: hot-blooded, fireball, passionate lover.

"Find Alice, Stayne," said Iracebeth with distress. "Find her!" she shouted almost in a panic as she jumped out her chair.

How could this have happened she wondered? The Red Queen had never paid much attention to that outlandish calendrical compendium. It was rather pedestrian to her liking. After Stayne left, she studied Frabjous day again. All she could think of was her Jabberwocky.

Iracebeth kept telling herself she did not need to worry Stayne would find her. Alice may be in Underland but she was out of her element. Then she had this sense of premonition brush beside her. Shivering, she felt cold seep inside her now. Iracebeth moved her hands and arms to shake off the malaise but ended warming herself in the process. However, the sense of foreboding lingered.

In apprehension, she thought of her crown and sat back down. Immediately, she took it off her head as if she was fiercely protecting from an unseen thief that was about to snatch it from her. As she cradled the crown in her lap, she began to realize the ramifications if something did happen to her pet. Her baby. Her Jabber-baby-wocky.

If Alice, heavens above, did succeed in slaying the Jabberwocky this would lead to an uprising. The unrest that was already simmering would no doubt culminate in a revolution. Her Jabberwocky was what really kept the masses in line along with her other prized pets as well as her random beheadings. While her pets were grotesque to some, she loved and treated them generously.

What's more, they were her instruments to implement fear in the populace. Or else she would not have these pets. They had to have fangs, teeth, claws, or sharp beaks. No cute and fluffy pets for the Red Queen. She wanted pets that could tear flesh asunder. In her mind, it made for a dramatic point.

The more thoughts swirled in her head the more Iracebeth understood that Stayne had to find her. Bless him; he was the first to point this out to her. Next time she'd see him she would reward Stayne with her lips, he deserved that much from her if not more. Until that happened she would be worrying as she waited for him.

Then her thoughts drifted to Mirana. Her sister, her ugly little sister could challenge her. No in fact, she would challenge her. The ridges of her forehead crinkled at the thought of Mirana having the crown. Why did Mirana believe she deserved the crown? It was the Red Queen's birthright she was the oldest. Iracebeth had been told since birth that this was hers and hers alone. However, somewhere along the way that changed as she possessively held on to the crown.