So the gist is this: this story attempts to explore Quinrose's Wonderland realistically, as it might actually be, without the otome elements. The genres will mostly be psychological horror and tragedy because it's a deconstruction of the world Quinrose has created. I find the dark hints of the Alice games to sometimes be more interesting than some of the foreground action.
What this story essentially attempts to do is take the dark hints and actually deal with them. For instance, what would it actually be like to be thrown into a strange world with no one to help you? What would it actually be like if you're disinterested in all the Roleholders and yet they still continue to force their feelings on you? What are the psychological impacts of being faceless.
At least, that's my goal. Will I succeed? Eh. Don't know. But it'll be fun trying. It all sounds very complex, and I'm not sure if I have the skill to pull it off, but we'll see. Hopefully what is here is enjoyable.
Lost, scared, shaken to her core, Delilah stayed bent on her hands and knees. She stared at the ground, her black-eyed gaze unable to tear away lest she see something she didn't want to see. She studied the tile on the ground. It was gray and seemed normal, but there was nothing normal about her circumstances. Something very strange had happened. A deep voice rose from behind her. "Who are you?" She turned her head hesitantly to see a man with long dark blue hair tied back, glasses resting on his thin nose. She didn't answer, and only let the wind sweep her dark hair off her shoulders, playing across her pale cheeks.
It was very windy. Perhaps that's because I'm on a tower. She could see clouds weave in and out the edge of the fence that surrounded her so high up from the ground. Glancing over the side, she saw below green for miles, dots of buildings speckling the landscape.
Then gazing back at the man she saw his expression rapidly shift to one of concentration, eyes focused on her face.
"Another?" His voice rose, bitter.
At first she had no idea what to say. Her head spun. Another what? What question would lead to the explanation for this impossible string of events?
"Where…is this?" Her voice shook in the shivery, cool air.
"This is here." He wasted no words, and turned as if to leave.
"No! You can't just leave me!" Desperation filled her. "I don't know where I am. I was drug down here by…a rabbit. A man with rabbit ears. He gave me this." She held a vial up. "God, I know it makes no sense, but if you would just help me!"
Julius's smile was humorless, his gaze showing that he did recognize the little vial.
"No." His voice was taut as hurt and sadness shined deeply in his eyes. "I helped one of you once. I'm not one to make mistakes twice."
She began to cry, clutching the vial in her fists as the tears ran down. "I'm so lost."
"Who are you?" Who is he to deny me help?
"Someone who doesn't get involved with your kind. Not anymore."
"My kind? What kind? What are you talking about!"
"Foreigners." He spat the word. "You draw us in your games, distracting us from our true duties, forcing us to make sacrifices on your behalves and giving us nothing. I don't need you."
"You won't help me?"
"I'll show you out the tower." His voice was emotionless, which disturbed her after his outburst only a few moments before.
Unable to meet his eyes, she tore her tearful look towards the vast space beyond the tower. A deep ticking reverberated…it strangely reminded her of the sound of a clock. Was she on a clock tower? It seemed so tall to be one, and yet the ticking continued to boom, only confirming her suspicions.
In a daze she followed him inside through the door. They moved step-by-step down stairs that seemed to never end. Clocks and gears lined the walls, gleaming gold and silver from the little bit of light that managed to make it in through the small windows. There was a definite gloom, and she felt time's presence very strongly. Watching the clocks as she moved down she felt every second, every minute that passed.
Which is how she knew ten minutes had passed when they finally reached a tall door, where he ushered her through outside. Stepping out, she winced in the sunlight. The light was blinding, shining oddly and bright. Too bright. She was barely able to see Julius close the door.
But she heard his parting words. "Don't return."
Staring at the closed door, she had a realization. The weight of everything fell on her, and questions dominated her mind.
Where was she?
She didn't know.
How would she survive.
She didn't know.
Panic controlling her, she threw herself against the door, beating it with her fists, screaming for the man to return until her lungs were sore.
Nobody came. She was alone in a world far too big.
She had been wandering to no avail. She had no concept of the time or how long she had been stumbling through the forest, thirst making her tongue raw in her mouth. Despite her burning legs she continued onwards, feeling them get heavier with each step until they were purely numb. Tree branches wove in the sky above as she traipsed through the mud below.
It almost seemed impossible, but she swore that time was playing a trick on her because the night and day switched back and forth at a rapid-fire pace.
Then the forest cleared suddenly into a sloping, grassy hill, and there at the bottom was a small town. It was cute, like a place she imagined from a fairy tale. The brown roofs and brick walls were quaint, cozy. It was a snug little place, nestled at the foot of the hill, inviting her in.
Her feet traveled down, and gravity drug her along the steepness as if pushing her forward.
The inside of the town was just as inviting. Little flowers lined the streets in colors, sunshine pouring through, filtering everything in a golden glow.
She stepped in, taking in the beauty, and realized slowly that something was very wrong.
At first she couldn't pick out what it was exactly. People strolled past her, speaking, enjoying the nice day.
But in the town's apparent normalcy lied horror, grotesquerie. The people…they had no eyes. Their eyeless faces passed her, their unseeing gazes focused forward. Screaming, the vial fell from her hand and shattered on the ground. She couldn't remember why she had kept the vial in the first place and neither did she care that it was broken now.
She was surrounded by the mockeries of people. Everything so normal, and so wrong. They were so average, and so extraordinary. If they had eyes they would be essentially people…but lacking eyes they were monsters.
They stared curiously as she unthinkingly ran as fast as she could deeper into the town, a scream high and cold tearing through her lips in the warm air.
At every turn there they were there, causing her throat to tighten. She couldn't stand to look at them, and so she rushed into the only place she could find: a shadowy alley. There she rested against the wall, shaking, trying to calm her fractured nerves.
She refused to leave that spot. She could hear their voices outside, human voices, but she knew them for what they were, for it was clear on their empty, frightening faces.
The sky shifted from night to day, and she was unsure whether the time went so quickly because she had completely lost her sense of time or whether time here was very, very wrong.
Stomach crawling, wrenching, she felt nothing but hunger endless. The want for food dominated her every sense. She was dizzy, tired, barely able to move as she stayed sitting in that dark alley. Hunger and the shadows dimmed her sight, but her sense of smell was sharper than ever. Everything smelled like food, and every scent wafting from the street tantalized her taste buds.
But she knew she couldn't ever leave. Between starvation and…them…she knew the answer to her grim choice. Imagining those eyeless grotesqueries with gazes that were surely unseeing caused her to shiver. Starvation looked more appealing by the moment.
Putting the fearful decision off, she begged her body to tolerate the aching, gnawing hunger just a little while longer.
She sobbed, feeling sick and empty. Falling asleep, she wasn't sure she would ever wake up.
X As she shut her eyes a hazy dream eventually opened before her. The void surrounded her, dark and infinite. She stepped forward on indefinite ground, silence threatening to overtake her. The atmosphere was maddening: ill-defined and made of nothing but empty space. All around was blackness, nothing. She walked on black nothingness, saw it at every turn.
A voice, deep and mysterious, shattered the silence. She froze, and a man materialized off to her side. He floated in the air, an eye patch over one of his eyes. His silver hair hung just above his shoulders.
"Alice?" he said.
"You're all Alice to me. Every single one of you." His voice was light, as if he was telling a riddle.
"I want to go home." She looked him straight in his one silver eye. "…but there is no home, is there?"
She suddenly remembered the vial breaking, shattering on the ground of the town. Somehow she had a vague sense that this was very bad.
"The vial was your only way home."
"Then how do I get out?"
His smile was grim. "How do you get out of anywhere? You end it."
"Either end the Game, end this place, or end yourself." His voice had suddenly become very serious. "Of course…ending the Game or this place would mean you'd have to kill thousands."
Her eyes went wide.
"And ending yourself…well, these are not very attractive choices."
Tears wouldn't even come. Her sadness was absolute, crushing her every emotion with an unbelievable sense that she was lost.
Anger stood in for sorrow as she screamed, "How dare you! How dare any of you! What right do you have?"
"Ah, but I didn't do this. It was a rabbit, wasn't it? Doing things he shouldn't do…so selfish."
"I'll find and punch that bastard!" she cried furiously.
"Will you?" The man seemed intrigued.
"He's destroyed my life. Of course I will."
"You're a strange girl. You may fit in here."
Still glaring, she said, "And who are you?"
She laughed bitterly. "Of course."
He stared off into the distance as if seeing something she couldn't. "You're more frightened than your kind usually is."
"You mean foreigners?" She remembered the name from the man at the Clock Tower. How could she forget the one who so cruelly turned her away in her hour of need?
"Your kind comes and goes…they used to be so rare, too. So many coming here is really upsetting the balance."
"Are there others like me here."
"No. They come one-by-one…and disappear."
At his words she closed her eyes, trying to keep herself from falling. "Disappear?"
She felt her throat tighten, stomach flip as terror rose in her heart. "I don't want to go back. Don't make me go back. Please, sir."
"I'm sorry, Delilah. Our meeting must end."
Mouth agape, she watched as the dream fell around her, the void vanishing in a burst of bright light.
Waking with a start, ahead of her she saw a woman a few feet away. She was tall, wearing a veil that covered her face, hair green as moss tumbling wildly around her long, thin arms. Her red dress, adorned with silver buttons, shifted slightly as she held out her hand. A silver ribbon was tied around her neck.
She smiled tightly, mouth barely visible under the edges of her veil. To Delilah even this forced expression was like an angel's face. She wanted to say something to her benefactor, but found her mouth dry and tongue numb.
"Poor thing." The woman bent, patting her head gently. "You look almost dead. Come with me, dear girl. Come."
Delilah was only barely aware of the strained way the woman spoke, as if she was forcing every word. Her movements were slow, deliberate.
Still, Delilah fell weakly against her, sobbing, wanting to be anywhere but starving in an alley.
The woman's expression hardened at the girl's touch, but she still patted Delilah's back. "I have a home on the outskirts of town. You'll never have to see another faceless again. I'll cook you a meal. Hot, fresh bread and thick steak with a glass of tea. Doesn't that sound nice?"
Her mouth watered as the woman continued to list off foods, describing their textures, tastes and smells in detail. Delilah could almost feel each and every one in her mouth, their flavor bursting on the tip of her tongue. Finally Delilah gave in, begging her to take her to her home.
"I always love to have strangers," the woman whispered. "I always hate for them to leave."
She led Delilah away, shrouding the girl's eyes the whole way so she didn't have to see the faceless. Meanwhile, the girl was crying tears of relief and joy.
She never could know what was to come.
Remember when I said this story has elements of horror? Yeah, that comes next chapter.