Okay all I wanted to do was rewrite Conman vs. Prince and this was the result, in a couple of weeks I may read this again and get more, but don't get your hopes up. Please someone write a sequel to this, I want to know what happens next too.
Who will you trust to get you and your father back home, a resistance insider and future king that has already scheduled your return through the looking glass, who cares for you more than anyone else in the world, or this man?
The harsh contempt in Jacks voice penetrated the fog of confusion that had saturated her from the moment that she stepped into this crazy world; allowing suspicion to sink in past the little girl looking for her father and the young women who needed to rescue her boyfriend. Trust was the crux of the matter, where should she put the dwindling remains of her faith. The so called perfect guy, a future king filling the air with pretty promises and the offer of a commitment, who claimed to be able to deliver the father she had searched so long for; or the other, a scruffy conman to the core, a traitor to both sides who outright admitted that he was using her for his own ends.
At first glance and in her confusion it seemed simple, but now that the clouds had cleared she could see the fractures in the image. The future king had lied to her consistently, proposed when he was already engaged, and was now asking her to give away the fragile trust she guarded so jealously. The conman, belying his own words, risked his life for her, had been honest about his motivations, and had promised to make sure he was safe before furthering his goals; he had not asked for her trust until he had proven himself worthy of it. She frowned briefly as she gazed at the arrogant Prince before her and caught from the corner of her eye the despondent look from the man who stood by her side. The both believed that she would take the princes offer, extend her trust to someone who had abused it before, without thought; the last of the fog remaining cleared before her anger, raised by the thought that the both of them would presume. She could accept Hatter's belief, as false as it was, because she had never given him any reason to think she was anything but that empty headed; Jack should know better though.
"Why me?" she asked, her quiet tone hiding the anger of her words, she would get her answers or someone was going to die.
"We were dating, it was only logical that I give you…" Jack was forestalled by a short gesture from Alice before she turned to untie Charlie not even looking at him as she spoke, her voice still in quiet monotone; driven beyond her usual explosive anger by events of the past two days.
"That's not what I meant, you all but demanded that I gave you a chance before you even knew me. Since you would have already been planning your coup, there had to have been something specific about me as you could have given the ring to anyone. So I ask again, why me?" She knew that Charlie, the only one who could currently see her face, could read the anger in her body language. What she didn't realize was that he looked at her and saw the legend she would soon be.
"Your father mentioned you and spoke so well of you that I had to find you for myself I never meant to care for you as I did, but I do"
She turned just in time to see a confused frown flit across Hatter's face at odds with the glee there just a few moments before, "Hatter, what's wrong?"
"Something isn't adding up, the Oyster's aren't allowed to remember their pasts, it interferes with the harvesting process." Hatter, like all the tea shop owners, was required by the queen to have some understanding of their product in order to market it properly; it was in fact what drove him to the Resistance.
"Well, Jack," where she dragged up her fury from, she had no idea, but she imbued Jacks name with all the anger she could and was rewarded with the slightest of flinches, "it seems like you've lied to me, again, is it just a habit by now or am I really that special to you that you just could not help yourself. Now I will ask one more time before I am forced to remove you from the area, why me? The truth this time"
The prince, no less arrogant but diminished somehow, sighed "Very Well, it truly is about your father, he and through him you are critical to our operation, without your help we will never gain his and without his help my mother will continue to destroy wonderland."
"Who is he to you, or to your mother for that matter, after all he is just one oyster."
"You're just one oyster and you currently have most of wonderland looking for you." Jack shot back with some fight hoping to avoid spelling everything out.
She answered with a cool look and sharp words, "I am the only one who knows where the stone of wonderland is, and apparently my father is important to the resistance, beyond that most of wonderland couldn't care less" For a moment she caught Hatter's eye remembering how he risked his life for her when he could have just as easily searched for the ring. "I am getting tired of repeating myself, Jack, who is my father to the resistance"
Unwillingly, grudgingly he gives the answer "Here he goes by the name Carpenter." Alice was about to question him further when a gesture from Charlie had her turning to look at Hatter who had gone pale in surprise.
"Hatter?" Alice asked uncertainly
At her voice his eyes snapped to her, "Your father is the Carpenter?" Seeing that she didn't yet understand he elaborated "The Carpenter is the Heart's head scientist, he is the hinge pin for their entire operation and he is the one that keeps the Oyster's compliant as they are harvested." He could see the moment that understanding swept across her features and watch as an odd and, frankly scary, smile crossed her face.
"Thank you, Hatter, for being one of the very few people who does not seem to need to lie to me at every turn. I am sorry for saying that I didn't trust you, I had a lot on my mind." Before he could form any kind of an answer she had turned back to the prince, "Now, Jack, here is what's going to happen; you are going to go into as much detail as the three of us require about the plans for my father. If, and I mean if, you can convince all of us that this plan has a chance in hell for it to be successful then your resistance will get the ring and our help. Oh, just a hint, you lie to me again and you can kiss your chance of a coup goodbye."
"Caterpillar said you and you alone"
"Well, since you've told me where my father is, you need us much more than we need you"
Hatter moved closer to her and spoke in a soft voice. "You don't need to jeopardize finding your father on our account; Charlie and me, we'll be just fine"
Alice smile at Hatter, causing him to forget to breathe for a moment. "Hatter, you have been the one person to help me from the beginning, since I was a pretty girl in a very wet dress" she held up a hand to stall his protest, "I know you had your own reasons to help me then, and you were honest that those reasons might be less than honorable; you and Charlie are the only two people in wonderland who have given me reason to trust, despite what I might have said back on the beach when I was soaked, cold, and still shocked. If I'm going to rescue my father, given who he is in wonderland, I'm going to need all the people I can trust that I can get. I know I shouldn't be asking this of you, but would you be willing to help me out one more time?" She smiled again, nervously.
"I promised to help you didn't I? We'll get you father back, somehow." Hatter was drawn to the bright smile he received from Alice as his words registered and he noticed that some of the tensions drain out of her shoulders before she turned to Charlie.
"How about you, Charlie, will you accompany us in another adventure"
"My Lady, I will follow you and the Harbinger to the gates of the Tartarus itself, and we shall fight the hordes there to save your ennobled father from the wicked she demon. Do not forget I dabble in the black arts"
Alice smiled at Charlie; even Hatter couldn't help but laugh at the look on Jacks face as Charlie wandered off to check his traps, before turning back to Jack she gestured at one of the large stones. "It's your choice, Jack, either all three of us or none of us." Jack weighed his options carefully and with another sigh he sat.
Half an hour later he finished explaining the plan; how they had gotten a hold of Carpenter, why they need Alice, everything. For a few moments there was silence then Hatter finally spoke cheerfully, "Well, am I the only one think trap, loudly and with great feeling" catching the look on Jacks face he snapped, "Not you, I could only be that lucky, but really this is your mothers head scientist; do you really think that they don't know where he is, and as soon as you bring Alice to him the lot of us will be captured without trouble."
"Well, what do you suggest?" Jack snapped; frustrated that, even though Alice hadn't said anything, it was clear that she still considered the conman's words above his own.
A devilishly mad smile crossed Hatter's face; "We'll give them something they'll never expect" he turned to Charlie, "you were kind of young at the time but do you remember the one who taught you to dabble in the black arts"
The old man's eyes widened and he breathed out, "Her, harbinger you can't hope to corral her into doing your bidding, she is beyond all that is in this world."
Hatter gave a mad little giggle, which he would flat out deny later, "Charlie, unlike those in the city I know you haven't forgotten the old ways, now how much chaos do you think you could cause with help?"
"With her help, more than enough but Harbinger, do you think it's a good idea to invoke the old ways? She'll uncontrollable"
"That's the idea, thankfully Chess has always hated March more than me, and she absolutely despises the house of cards, I can convince her"
Something passed over Charlie's face then he fully caught on and suddenly began to look quite enthusiastic, "Well then, Harbinger, I may have an idea or two to wreak havoc"
"Perfect" He turned to the greatly confused Alice, but pointedly ignored the equally confused Prince, "There is more magic in Wonderland than even you books say, things that were abandoned when the cards came to power, long before time was wasted. If you're willing, then there is someone I'd like you to meet"
"Uh, sure but…"
"Great!" he leapt up and dragged her over to the horses excitedly, "'is it alright if we borrow a horse, Charlie?" Not even waiting for an answer he began to bundle Alice onto the mare they had rode earlier
"Its fine, Harbinger, and don't worry justAlice I think you'll get along with her just fine" ignoring Alice's questions of who, he grabbed Jacks shoulder as he made to follow after the pair "Oh no, you'll be staying here, you'll meet her soon enough; but first, we must dig" he rubbed his hands together and resisted the urge to cackle, "oh yes we must dig, everything must be ready for when they return; for when She emerges."
"What is going on, Hatter?" Alice asked when they finally slowed and then stopped some time later.
Hatter had the grace to blush slightly, "Sorry I guess I got excited, forgot that you know only slightly more than the city dwellers, we're going to cause a distraction so we can get to your father"
"Hatter, we could have done that without dragging me through the Forrest."
"Not to this magnitude, and well part of it was to get you away from the prince to explain"
"Hatter I already told you I trust you more than Jack, but you don't need to drag me away to explain your plan. I mean he is a liar but that doesn't mean he isn't at least partially on our side"
"Not with this plan. Alice if this goes to plan he won't be king anymore than his mother will be queen"
"The plan is to reawaken the old ways, and the old magic. Before the cards took over things were different, by the time the first Alice of Legend found wonderland our ways had already been forgotten by the majority of the people."
"Chaos, pure and unadulterated; comforting and ever changing. The Cards forced order on wonderland, and those who chose to remember were branded mad. Time was created, Succession followed; many of the mad pushed through the barriers to your world bringing their chaos and fleeing order. Their blood continues to reside in your world and the lines will wake with the old magic."
For some reason Hatters words pulsed inside her veins and she realized for the first time the charged atmosphere of the path they walked, she looked back to see the horse, moving with agitation, growing smaller behind her. "Where are we going?" she whispered.
"Chess lives around here, she'll help bring the magic to life. I can't wait for you to meet her, she'll absolutely adore you."
"Chess" Alice gasped, "The Chasseur cat. But that means, Mad March…"
"March was the first to forget, he was always so young. I followed him into the city, half forgot myself" he smiled at her, "you helped me remember, remember why draining the oyster's was so … horrifying to me"
"The Hearts don't even know what they are messing with, you know. Who they're messing with." He turned to her and grasped one of her hands, she gasped at the rush that came with the contact. "You feel it don't you, the pull to your very blood. No one can pass into wonderland without its magic running through them. The magic of chaos brought into your world by the mad fleeing order, surviving in blood, drawing the Hearts to each line; even they can feel the magic in your world"
Alice was speechless as they approached a clearing in the woods and a purring female voice came from nowhere and everywhere at once, "Well, well, well, who have we here?" a woman faded into view a coy smile on her beautiful striped face. She was just a hair taller than Hatter, thin with long blood red hair her skin glowed the palest of violet and was striped with purple almost a vivid as her hair. "My, my Hatter, who is your pretty companion?"
"Chess" Hatter greeted warmly, leaving Alice to feel jealous for a brief moment, "This is Alice. Alice this is my sister Chess"
"An Alice, oh it is a purrrfect pleasure to meet one such as you" Chess circled Alice looking at her carefully, "oh, yes, a true treat. You will do nicely my dear, strong in all the ways the last Alice wasn't and pure in all the ways you need to be." Alice looked confused and Chess glanced at her surprised brother, "why did you bring her here, but to reawaken the old magic through her?" Hatter blushed and mumbled something, to which Chess raised an elegant brow, "You wanted her to meet the only family that you can claim? How sweet" she turned to Alice, "Like the legendary Alice from before you have the chance to bring back the old ways, she got close; she knocked down the house of cards but just wasn't tied to wonderland enough to bring the Ways back. You may be, with your feeling for my brother. Will you try?"
In this clearing, air heavy with magic and with her hand still tingling from touching Hatter it was hard to focus on anything save the magic; her father, her embarrassment at Chess's comment about her feelings for Hatter, Jack and his mother, Charlie it all fell to the wayside. Instead her head echoed with the question 'will you try?' She was helpless before the call to her blood and found herself nodding just before she was swept into a massive hug from a grinning Hatter; she returned it relishing the feel of his arms, unaware that he was doing the same.
Chess grinned wide at her, "Then I will help create your distraction, come we must return to the knight and the false prince." Alice allowed herself to be led away from the clearing feeling slightly dizzy from all that went on.
In no time at all they were nearly back to the lost city, Alice remained slightly dazed but that may have more to do with the fact that this time she was sitting in front of Hatter on the horse with his arms practically wrapped around her.
Upon arriving at their camp they were greeted by a cheerfully filthy Charlie and a disgruntled Jack whose face got even darker as he watched Hatter help Alice from their horse. Hatter for his part did seem to be almost constantly touching her or standing near her; for once Alice didn't mind the invasion of her personal space.
Chess positively glided into the clearing after them distracting Jack as Charlie kneeled quickly, "my lady" he said reverently.
The woman laughed, "my favorite apprentice, it's good to see you survived all these years. Shall we plan?"
The next hour was a blur as the four began to make plans. A quick spell from Chess had Jack out cold until they were ready for him. The crux of the matter was that they needed more bloodlines to be brought into Wonderland and the only way to do that would be to let the cards bring one last batch of Oysters through the mirror.
Carefully wrapped in a tracking spell provided by Chess, Alice stood ready to act like her life depended on it. Every piece must be in place for the ritual and that meant letting Jack think he was dragging her away to the resistance then letting herself be captured by the Queen. The spells would lead the suits to the last of the old bloodlines and once everyone was through the looking glass the final steps could be taken.
As the crowd waited patiently for the scientist to bring forward the ring to activate the mirror, Alice waited for a very specific signal. Everything had gone according to plan; the Heart's casino had been destroyed, all the bloodlines had been collected and the stone was back where it belonged. Even this far from the wild paths Alice could feel the thrumming of magic in her blood pulsing as eagerly as she was.
She saw Hatter just as the scientist bearing the ring passed by. With the speed given to her by her blood she grabbed the ring. She sliced her hand with the knife she had been hiding and before anyone could move Alice dragged the stone through her blood.
Power coursed through her and her voice sounded of its own accord. "I call to the mad, to chaos unconfined. I speak for Aria, known to the ancients as Eris our breath and life. Who will speak?"
Like puppets on strings the Oysters began to form a circle, taking specific places and leaving gaps open until 50 people surrounded her with one gap a quarter of the circle away from her on both side and three gaps across from her. The woman/goddess could feel more than see the shield that pushed Jack and his suits back from them and heard the mirror shatter. Charlie filled the gap to her right, grinning in his armor. The transparent form of her father filled the space to her left. Across from her Chess stood calm with Hatter to her left and the March Hair, cookie jar head and all, to her right.
Chess stepped forward, her voice curling around them. "I speak for magic, for arcane silences and explosive knowledge. By my words knowledge returns to Aria's land and the arcane once again live." Lights glittered and swirled around them and in a distant corner of Alice's mind she knew that one of the suits was blasted into a wall for trying to touch the barrier.
Next to step forward was Hatter, "I speak for love complex and pure, protective and controlled. I open my heart without concern and put into the keeping afforded me. So I intend so mote it be." Every cell of Alice's body warmed and the shield around them grew solid. In the back of her mind she knew that the strength of his love was measured by the reaction of the shield. If it had faded or disappeared then he did not lover her enough to protect them during this time and the ritual would fail. Staying the same would indicate that he loved her just enough to succeed. Growing solid like that meant pure love; the purity was of an order that has not been seen since before the order bound chaos.
The third to step forward was the March Hair, "I stand for the blackest hate and the suffering of failure." Cuts began to appear along Alice's body when his mechanical voice started to speak. Alice didn't flinch, trusting in Hatter's love to balance out March's hate. Sure enough, though her body was soaked red with blood the wounds healed. Now Alice could feel every corner of her land from the brightest meadows to the darkest of caves there were no secrets in her land.
Charlie stepped forward looking vaguely in front of him. "I speak for the living, calling to our mother for guidance; asking the old ways to return." Alice breathed and now her land was no longer empty, she could feel her children and the interlopers. Another moment and it stretched beyond her land and into the world of science and her children there.
Before she could get caught up in the living the ghost of her father stepped forward, "I speak for the dead, those that now rest with our mother before it is time to return." Now she could feel them as well, the dead and dying. The weary and the resting, she embraced them. One last step before the ending will come.
As one the rest of the circle stepped forward. In one voice they spoke, "From the bloodlines we speak, those who remembered and fled the forced order plea for chaos to return to her rightful place in this land. Restore your beauty and your wonder."
This was it; Alice could feel the energy swirling around her. "I speak for Aria" she breathed, "and bind myself in her place, freeing her. Let chaos finally prevail." Bright lights wrapped around her at her wrist, ankles, and neck dragging her to her hands and knees. She felt the noise erupt around her, howling like wolves in a storm. Deep in her soul a connection formed ensuring that she would never leave Wonderland, never return to the world of her birth. When the light faded strong hands helped her stand.
Alice looked up into the sparkling eyes of her Hatter, then around at the woodlands surrounding them. They were alone. "What happened? Where are we" She asked, slightly dazed as she tried to decipher the buzzing in her head.
"You did it" Hatter spoke lovingly, "you freed her. As for where we are, I haven't the foggiest. This just happens to be where we landed" When he bent down to kiss her she realized that she didn't much care where they were. She was home now.
I did it, it's finally finished. That's the end of that feel free to write a sequel, just let me know you have.