Title: Ages of Alice
Rating: T (for mention of violence and death)
Pairing: Alices and hatters from several ages, including Alice Kingsleigh and Tarrant Hightopp
Summary: It is widely held that for every season there is a hatter. What is not as well known is that for every hatter there is also an Alice.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction and the author receives no profit from the work.
Author's Note: The opening chapters are brief and notation heavy, because this is a work that is both soaked in historical references and also working towards the final Age of Alice.

Ages of Alice

1. Adalheidis & Alvis[1]

It is widely held that for every season there is a hatter. There is good logic behind this assumption, because there are always royal heads to be hatted. What is not as well known is that for every hatter there is also an Alice. Unfortunately, the Alice has not always had a proper degree of muchness to achieve what she ought.

That has left me, who has seen all of Underland's history since the dawn of the first day, to weather all incarnations of the Alices and their various levels of ineptitude. It has become so very tiresome. The Alices are almost without exception hopelessly stupid girls. Indeed, some of them are hardly worth mentioning at all.

Adalheidis was quite nearly Alice enough, however.

She came as a girl child to Underland; ten years at least, but maybe more, she had estimated. Her spiritedness and forethought brought her to Underland. As she told it, men had been attacking her village, and of her three sisters, Adalheidis had been the only one to think to crawl inside the village well.[2] It was imperative to hide from such raids, because these foreign men thought nothing of taking women and female children from the villages as their own, as slaves, as wives, as concubines.[3] Thinking the attack over, she had emerged Bottomside—although, to be precise, as one should be, it was not yet Under, but rather Above, as our world had not yet inverted.

I was not as magical as I am now, and therefore, I could do nothing more than rub against her legs to communicate my directions when I happened upon her in the forest, but she seemed to like it. Humans do so like my fur. The action was enough to get the child to follow me, and I led her to Alvis. I would have taken her to my mistress, but my mistress already had four girls and I did not think she would take to another one, troublesome as they are. I had a notion that he might not find her so troublesome, and my notions are seldom if ever wrong.

The girl child did not speak Alvis' language and he could not make heads or cat's tails of what had brought her to his door with one of her ginger plaits come undone and gown dirtied and torn asunder, but he took pity on her and made her a part of his household.[4] At least, that is what he told people: I have taken pity on the child. I think he found her rather pretty, but he would not have admitted to such a thing. I knew, however, that Alvis was fond of more than just jewels and gold and silver: Alvis was a collector of all things he thought fine, and beneath the grit and grime, Adalheidis was a fine girl child.

Strong, dark bearded Alvis was a worker of metals.[5] So skilled was he in his craft that he was tapped by the crown of Alfheim for all manners of decorative metalwork. Arm bands, brooches, circlets, and war helmets all came from his forge.[6] His workload grew as the Alfar of Alfheim multiplied, and Adalheidis was nimble fingered and took to his craft, becoming his helpmate in detail work as she grew into womanhood.[7]

When the Oraculum, gifted to the crown of Alfheim by the Vanir, foretold Adalheidis' service to the Alfar, she did not hesitate, for she knew the fear of foreign attack and the pain of loss.[8] Our world was now Her world and she would not stand idly by. This is what she explained to Alvis, as he reluctantly forged the Vorpal sword, which was intended to be the instrument of Jormungand, the great serpent's, death.[9] He preferred to make beautiful things intended for less violent purposes and he preferred his beautiful Adalheidis safe and not armed for battle against a serpent. Stone jawed, he sat stiffly, as she fingered the sword.

"It's good work, Alvis. Strong work."

He glowered at the sword. "There are other things I would make for you if you want a demonstration of my skill. Things you need not bloody."

"I must," she told him.

"There is always choice," he insisted with a jerk of his chin.

"I've made mine."

Indeed, she had, and there was no dissuading her. Adalheidis, the strong willed child, had grown into Adalheidis, the strong willed woman, and she would not be prevented from doing what she Ought.

And she would have. Perhaps there would have been slaying and perhaps the man who made the crowns and helmets for the heads of the Alfar would have grown the courage to be more than a mentor to his dear, ginger haired apprentice and perhaps their children would have brought balance and peace to our world.

But I despise politics. I prefer not to get involved. Without my assistance distracting the guards Alvis could not be rescued from the sodden dungeons of the Aesir. He moldered there. He died there. Adalheidis lost her focus. The Alfar lost their Champion.

For my uninvolvement I was rewarded by the Aesir with immortality and immateriality—two very useful qualities that I was glad enough to accept.

Adalheidis and Alvis were rewarded with a spilling of their blood.

I do not like blood: it mattes the fur. Uninvolvement was a wiser choice for me.

The world inverted. Everything went dark. And everything had to begin again, new, different, more magical, and Under.

Perhaps in this one case it was not the Alice who was not Alice enough. But I do so hate politics.

[1] Alice is a shortened form of the Old French Adelais, which is derived from the Germanic name Adalheidis, from the Germanic word elements adal, meaning noble and heid, meaning type. Alvis is Old Norse in origin and derives from a myth in which Alvis fell in love with the daughter of the god of Thunder.

[2] Alice Liddell was ten years old when the story of Alice in Wonderland was told to her by Dodgson (Carroll). She was one of three sisters. The Dormouse's story about the treacle well, where three sisters live, owes its inspiration to St. Frideswide's well located just outside of Oxford. Alice had visited this location several times with Dodgson. St. Frideswide was an eighth century, Anglo-Saxon princess. She founded a nunnery, where she became the abbess, but a prince sought to marry her anyway. Frideswide fled to Oxford, where she was protected by the people from the prince. The well was an answer to Frideswide's prayers: she asked God for a more convenient way for the nuns to fetch water, but the waters also had healing properties and people began to seek it out for its curative powers. Treacle is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'cure-all,' which means the three sisters in the Dormouse's story must have been very sick to have sought out the well.

[3] Adalheidis came from the Frankish kingdom ruled by the Carolingians roughly around the year 800, the year Charlemagne was crowned emperor by the pope. While Charlemagne ruled at the height of the Carolingian Empire, elements of decay were already setting in. External threats in the form of invasions by Muslims, Magyars, and Vikings (Norsemen) were already troubling the empire. Violence bred decentralization and the militarization of society.

[4] By the year 800, people in Northern France had begun to speak Old French (langue d'oil), which was a direct descendant of Old Gallo-Romance with influences from Old Frankish. The Franks had fully mixed by this time with the native Gallo-Roman stock. This resulted in a blending of cultures. The Gauls had been taller than the Romans, of pale complexion, and red headed. The Franks were also tall and fair-haired. Charlemagne, for example, was described as being tall, fair-haired, and robust with a thick neck.

Carolingian women's dress was influenced by fashions from the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine). They wore a stole, a long dress pouched at the waist by a leather belt. Sleeves extended to the elbow. Fibulae (brooches) were worn at the shoulders for decoration. A palla (long scarf) was draped around the shoulders and could be worn over the head. According to Salic Law, it was illegal for a married woman to appear in public with her head uncovered.

[5] Alvis' people originally were Norse, the people who most famously to sack and settle Western Europe in the late eighth century, but who originated in Scandinavia. The Norse were great seafarers and they used that skill to trade and travel as far as the coastline of the state of Maine, Russia, and the Byzantine Empire. Yes, the Norse 'discovered' America 500 years before Columbus and in much smaller boats without the benefit of nautical instruments.

[6] The picture of Norsemen being blond is a stereotype. They were generally of pale complexion, but the majority had brown, not blond hair. Men generally had long hair, mustaches, and sometimes beards. Their hair was well kept as was their clothing. They favored brightly colored linen or woolen tunics sometimes trimmed in fur that reached to mid thigh, which were worn over trousers. They generally also wore brooches, arm bands, necklaces, cloaks, leather boots, and leather belts with a knife and pouches.

[7] The Alfar are the Norse light elves that inhabit Alfheim. Light elves were bright, radiant, and fair, fairer than the sun according to Nordic sources. Humans interbreeding with the Alfar was not unheard of, and therefore, the pale appearance of Underlandian humans, such as Mirana and the Hatter, can be explained by their ancestors being both human and Alfar.

[8] The Norse believed that their world was divided up into nine worlds, on three levels, all held together by a great tree. The top level consisted of three kingdoms: Asgard, home of the Aesir or Warrior Gods, Vanahiem, the home of the Vanir or Fertility Gods, and Alfheim, the home of the Light Elves (Underland prior to inversion). The Vanir had the ability to see the future, explaining the ability of the Oraculum. Furthermore, according to Norse mythology, the warlike Aesir went to war against the older Vanir (the Aesir-Vanir War), and the Vanir lost. The implication here that the Alfar had sided with the losing side is not based in Norse mythology.

[9] The Norse believed that a great serpent, Jormungand, encircled Middle Earth, where humans lived. He was one of the misshapen offspring of Loki, arguably one of the chief Aesir.