The Oz-Cracker

In this Pandora Hearts rendition of the Nutcracker, follow Alice and Oz in an all new adventure! Merry Christmas and Happy holidays!

Alice stared in the darkness where the nutcracker stood on her table. Cheshire was curled up beside her.

In a fit of indecision, she threw the covers off, lit her lamp and went to the table. The nutcracker looked like a person with a rabbit's head. Buck teeth, large ears, green eyes, dressed in a soldier's uniform with gold tassels, holding a sword in his hand.

His jaw had a little crack in it from when Vincent broke it the night before.

She was given the nutcracker as a gift from Jack Vesalius the same day. To spite her, Vincent stole the doll and threw it out the window. Jack, who witnessed the deed, sent Vincent to retrieve it. He fixed it for Alice in her room, but the crack still remained visible.

Alice stroked the Nutcracker's head between the rabbit ears. "Get well soon," she whispered to it, laying her head down. She closed her eyes, just for a moment. A blink. That was it.

But when Alice opened her eyes again, a stuffed doll was leaning in close to her. A clown doll, grinning at her. Alice gasped and sat up.

"What is going on?"

"Alice…" the doll hissed. "Alice…Alice…Alice…."

The room echoed with the dolls' voices, all saying Alice's name. Alice covered her ears with her hands, scrunched her eyes close and sat by her bed in a fetal position.

"Stop that! You're all scaring her!"

The noise died down to silence. Alice opened her eyes.

"Now aren't you ashamed of yourselves? Scaring a poor little girl like that?" Alice stared at the nutcracker. It had his hands on his hips and tapped his wooden foot against the table. He turned around and smiled at her, baring his big rabbit teeth. "Alice, are you okay?"

"You can talk?"

"We can all talk," the nutcracker said, "when we need to." He jumped off the table and ran up to Alice, climbing up her legs and sat on her knees. "My name is Oz. Jack's a friend of mine. He brought me here for my safety. When Vincent threw me out the window, I was spotted by the Mouskervilles. They'll be here soon. They'll try to curse you too, like they cursed me."

"You're cursed."

"I'm actually a human. It's a long story, but there isn't much time to tell it. Let's just put it this way: the Mouskervilles' queen turned me into a nutcracker by unlucky circumstances. I killed her on accident and now her son is after my life."

"How can you kill someone on accident?"

"I thought the name 'Mouskervilles' would give you a hint that we're up against rodents. I stepped on her."

"But you're the size of a mouse!"

"Yeah…I was shrunk. I wasn't always this small. My real size is a little taller than yours."

The clock chimed midnight. Oz gasped and looked at it. Alice scanned the room, holding Oz to her chest. "Something's in here, is there?"

"Yes. Let me go, Alice, and get into bed. Close your eyes and don't watch."

Alice set Oz down on the floor and climbed back into bed. She closed her eyes as tight as she could. For a moment, she thought she could hear rustling and clinking. She thought she could feel something climbing around and on top of her.

She shivered, pulling the covers over her head. She felt a tickle on her nose. Try as she might, she couldn't hold it in.

"Ah—achoo!"

Alice held her hand to her face, covering mouth and nose. She opened her eyes and blinked. What had happened? Why did she feel like she was being suffocated?

"Oz?"Alice called out. She pushed at the covers. They wouldn't budge. Alice struggled to get out, even kicking with her feet until she had freed herself from the bed. She scanned the room. Everything had become enormous! Alice looked down at her feet. She was standing on her pillow. "Oz! What happened to me? I've been—"

Alice screamed, two fur covered arms had wrapped around her and were hauling her to the bed's side.

"Right here, for you, your majesty. The human girl."

The mouse and Alice jumped off the bed. Alice screamed. They landed on their feet. Alice's legs felt wobbly and ached from the jump. Another mouse joined them and tied Alice with a rope of thread.

"Let me go! I haven't done anything to you!"

"You're harboring a murderer!"

"A murderer!"

"I'm not harboring anyone! Certainly not a murderer!"

"The nutcracker! Where is the nutcracker?"

"You mean Oz?"

"We do not address him by name," a mouse, or perhaps a rat, said. He slinked towards her, his scaly tail dragging on the floor. He was dressed in red robes, as were the others. "We only call him the Nutcracker. Miss Alice, I am afraid you are indeed harboring a murderer. A regicidal maniac."

"He told me what happened," Alice said. "You're the king of the Mouskervilles aren't you? Oz told me that it was an accident."

"An accident? Stepping on my mother? An accident?" the king raged. "It was no accident, little girl. The nutcracker will pay for his crime!"

"Then let me pay it!" Oz shouted. "Believe what you want, but release Alice. She has nothing to do with what happened that day. I'll cooperate so long as she is unharmed."

The mice exchanged looks. The king nodded his head. "I agree to your terms. Release the girl."

The mice untied Alice while two others forced Oz to his knees.

"Now, Nutcracker," The king of the Mouskervilles said, unsheathing a sword. He pointed it at Oz. "Do you agree to the terms of the duel."

"I agree, sure. But I thought you were just going to kill me."

"Would you rather be executed without honor?"

"No, duel any day, I just wasn't aware that I was allowed…oh, forget it. Get off," The mice released Oz. He stood and unsheathed his sword.

Alice stood with the mice in a ring.

Oz and the king took their fighting stances. Oz lunged first. The king blocked him and parried, his sword almost pierced Oz, but Oz dodged to the left, turning his whole body to avoid puncture. He slammed his sword onto the king's and rammed his shoulder into him, knocking the king back a little bit. As the king regained his footing, Oz was ready for the next attack.

"Come and get me you cheese hog." Oz goaded. "Your mother deserved her death for what she did to Abyss-no-Ishi!"

The king squeaked a laugh. "Abyss-no-Ishi? That spoiled little girl? Remember, Nutcracker, what happened to Abyss-no-Ishi transferred to you. That brat hated you the moment the curse became your burden."

"That doesn't make what happened to her any more horrifying. A little baby, cursed to the form of a rabbit! That's just cruel!"

The king recommenced the duel, swinging his sword down on Oz. Oz blocked him with his sword. "Don't speak of things you don't understand, boy." The king kept pushing, forcing Oz to his knees.

Alice ran from the duel, looking for something—anything that may help.

"Abyss-no-Ishi banned you from the Abyss on pain of death, you have nowhere to return to, Nutcracker!"

Alice seized a scythe from a doll. "I'll bring this right back," she said, returning to the battle.

Oz still knelt, trying to exhort more force than the king.

Alice held the scythe high in the air, running at the king. She lowered the scythe in one swinging motion. It embedded into the king's back.

Alice pulled the scythe out of his back and the king collapsed, dead. The Mouskervilles surrounded their king and carried him off. Alice helped Oz up. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Thanks," Oz said, scratching his head. "A scythe?"

"Yeah."

"Maybe you should stay away from, um, sharp objects," Oz said, gently prying the scythe from Alice's hands. "Just for the safety of others."

"I suppose. I am tempted to use it on Vincent."

"That would be why you don't want it handy," Oz said, setting it down under the table.

"Now, let's make you big again."

"Not just yet," Alice said. "I want answers. You said you killed the Mouskervilles' queen accidently, but that she deserved it because she cursed someone named Abyss-no-Ishi?"

"Yeah. What part of that was unclear?"

"All of it! I want answers and I want them now!"

Oz scratched the back of his head. "Fine," he groaned, sitting down. Alice sat down in front of him.

"I suppose it began twelve years ago." Oz said. "I was only…three years old. My cousin, Jack, used to work for a family who lived in the heart of the Abyss. They were the Royal Chain family. They had a baby girl, who would become the sole leader, the will, of the Abyss. They called her Abyss-no-Ishi.

"One day, the Queen of the Mouskervilles (who are some high level chains, size manipulators, distantly related to the chain called Dormouse) put a curse on Abyss-no-Ishi because the Chain King banished her from the center of the Abyss. She turned Abyss-no-Ishi into a chain known for a long time as the Black Rabbit.

"The Chain King and Queen sought out anyone who could release Abyss-no-Ishi from her curse. Jack figured I could try to break it, which required a special kind of nut. A chestnut, with a red and green shell."

"That sounds like an impossible thing to find."

"Maybe here, yeah, but in the Abyss? Nah, I just had to look in the right direction. Well, I found it and presented the nut to Abyss-no-Ishi. I cracked the nut and gave it to her. The curse lifted. No one knew that it'd transfer to whoever broke it. Well, that's how I became a rabbit. But when she realized that I had the curse, Abyss-no-Ishi banished me from the Abyss, unless I wanted to be killed. While I was running for my life, I stepped on the Queen of the Mouskervilles, which turned me into a nutcracker and I was hit with their shrinking dust. As an added bonus, I can only move at night.

"Jack brought me here, saying I'd be safe with you."

"I'm not so sure if that's true," Alice said, tracing a finger over the scar from his fall out the window. "I haven't been able to protect any of my things from Vincent."

"Vincent is Vincent. You just killed the King of the Mouskervilles," Oz reminded her. "You can do more than you yourself realize, Alice. You saved my life. I am in your debt."

Alice grinned at Oz. "Then you can start by being a better servant!"

"Wha?"

"Oz! Get out of bed! We're going out! Now!"

Oz sat up in bed, looked one way, then another. "Where are we again?"

"Christmas morning, in your bed, and you don't know that? You're such an idiot!" Alice growled. "Now get up! We're going to a Christmas pageant."

"Alice, the pageant isn't until tonight and it's six thirty in the morning."

"Oz."

"Yes?"

"Can you eat a Christmas pageant?"

Oz groaned and pulled the covers over his head. "I'll see you at a more acceptable time, Alice."

"Which would be?"

"One in the afternoon. And no, you cannot eat a Christmas pageant."