Chapter 1: Conception
Long long ago, somewhere both far and near, there was a dream. It was a small dream, innocent and lithe, full of both joy and sadness. Many people had shared the dream, whether they knew it or not, and they all thought different of it as people are wanton to do. Some called it a fantasy, others a dream, yet others a nightmare, … There were as many descriptions and names for the dream as there were people who had shared it and in the end, the dream had grown. It was a big dream now and more people kept sharing it as time went on, causing it to grow with new words, scenes, fears and stories. In the end, the dream had become too big and people began entering the dream together. The first two people who shared the dream together were strangers who had never seen each other before, yet they connected through the dream like no one ever had before. They shared many adventures together and give this large new dream a new name. They called this wondrous land after itself, namely Wonderland.
And in Wonderland, they called themselves the Red King and the Red Queen, for they shared a love of card-games and had made their own kingdom of the Crimson Crux or the Red Heart, making it rise before them as they told of its history and culture while they walked its borders. For years, they went asleep into the dream and shared many great adventures together. Their kingdom grew with each new tale they told of it, sharing the tales between themselves and their people of the kingdom. And the dream kept growing, larger and larger still, as more tales and adventures were shared and told within it. One day, it had become too large once again and a new pair of dreamers was drawn into Wonderland. At first they were welcomed by the ruby royals, but when they began to share their tales and made new stories together, a rival kingdom was told off and began to rise beyond the borders of the crimson country. And they called this new kingdom the Jetted Spade, known also as the Black Shovel. They grew into friendly rivalry, having games of battle on their shared border every so often, playing all manner of games. But as the years went on, friendly rivalry turned into bitter distaste. For you see, the atramentous aristocracy of the Jetted Spade were quite gifted in the telling of grand tales. Soon after they begun, their kingdom had grown larger than that of the Crimson Crux, with a history so much richer than theirs and a people so much more loving than any other in all of Wonderland.
For the first time ever, the dream stood on the brink of a terrible fate, that of becoming a nightmare in essence. For a long while, the balance was precariously kept, neither side daring to make a terrible move. But one day, the Red King became enamoured by the Black Queen, seduced by her wonderful singing voice and tales of revelry in her castle. He eloped, wandered into her boudoir, much to everyone’s regret. For when the Red Queen found out, she did a terrible deed, cutting off her husband’s head when he came back home none the wiser. Soon, her bloodlust corrupted her luscious kingdom, making all bleak and sullen. Once gorgeous ruby roses became white as snow, while her people’s love for her changed into a hatred fuelled by fear for her wrath. Soon, her influence went beyond her borders, as she began waging a war with the Jetted Spade and tore Wonderland almost apart. And now the dream became aware, for the first time ever, of its innate fragility. If not countered, the rogue dreamster’s wrath and mania would destroy the dream into a nightmare, so the fearful dream cut itself off from her mind and everyone else. It became detached, floating in the probability of the subconscious mind of thousands of people, fuelled by fantasy and desire. It kept itself stable for many years and without the mind of the dreamer there to fuel the hatred in the character of the Red Queen, her wrath diminished but never vanished. One day, as the dream lay floating in a dark mind where sleep was no longer present, a new dreamer appeared. At first the dream knew not what happened, couldn’t understand how this White Rabbit came to be there, but when it floated into another dark mind years later, again a new dreamer appeared.
It turned out, believe it or not, that the dream had entered the minds of very unfortunate people. Namely, those minds which are no longer truly alive, that are in a state which we call a coma. These minds, so curiously absent in their own right, were still very alive and present in Wonderland when it floated into them. But unlike the other dreamers from before, when the dream left their minds, the characters remained as alive as they were when connected. Many more years passed and many new characters entered the dream, residing there when it left their minds, free from the shackles of a broken body and able to do anything they pleased. But broken as these minds were, their characters were equally strange. The elaborate stories of old slowly became distorted, changed into strange tales which didn’t make sense when inspected closer. Wonderland became a true wondrous land, filled with jealous flowers that could talk, white rabbits late for everything and anything, hatters as mad as their flawless designs, … So many characters appeared, so many people took refuge within the dream, that soon many more kingdoms appeared throughout Wonderland as its borders infinitely expanded.
The Jetted Clover was ruled by triplets, having a feud with every other kingdom every other day for the most trivial of reasons. They had the titles of Obsidian, Ebony & Onyx. No one knows when they arrived and some say that not even the dream can tell, for one day their kingdom simply existed and had always existed as far as anyone could tell. It was grand yet small, growing in all directions except outward, its capitals turrets growing ever higher and the cellars digging ever deeper. Even now, hardly anyone knows just how deep the roots of the Four-Leaf Clover stretch…
The Vermillion Quadrate was ruled by a single emperor, called the Rose, who ruled their lands with an iron yet gentle hand. Their land was the smallest of all kingdoms, hardly the size of a decent county, but it was more fertile than any other and had such lush forests that it was known as the Green Sea of the West. Its people were beloved by everyone, for their produce was sweet and plenty, sold on all markets through Wonderland. It was held dearly in the hearts and interests of all other kingdoms, seen as a worthy price for a strong conquorer but never did any ruler dare attack this edenous garden of beauty.
Today marks the Thousand Year Tale, as the first millennium of stories, tales and fantasies comes to its end. Throughout Wonderland, celebrations are partaken in, as parties light up the night in every direction. Even the kingdoms, their rivalry so deeply rooted, have given up in their fighting for a single day, as all the royals were now seated around the Nave of the Dream, where the first dreamer walked and made the dream grow. They toasted, celebrated and feasted, drinking sweet wines in opulent décor, with satin-velvet cakes and sour cream soufflés, sweet oranges and sour apples, salty pears and bitter roses, … All manner of food and drink surrounded the Nave, as throngs of people came from near and far to celebrate the occasion with the royalty. All manner of rank, bitterness and dark memories were forgotten for a single night, as queens danced with farmers and kings toasted with milkmaids. Even the elusive Cheshire Cat, oldest of the dreamers, and the Dream itself shared in the celebration, as stars fell from the sky into colourful fireworks and scented clouds of perfume. The moon crumbled into cheese, falling down unto the world below to fill men’s bellies and aid in the merrymaking of mice, while the sun drained out into all the waters and changed them into oceans of ambrose’n’honey.
It was nearly midnight when the first people noticed the brilliant star that had appeared in the sky, directly above the Nave where merrymaking made people oblivious to the stellar visitor. But as the hours passed, it grew and grew, larger and larger still. Only then, when it had grown larger than the moon, did the partygoers at the Nave notice it above them. Finally it began to fall, its brilliant shine dispersing through the sky and lighting the entire lands as if it were noon. Falling lower and lower, it slowly shrunk as its light diluted into the air around it, luminous clouds growing dark once more. By now, all revelling had gone silent throughout all of Wonderland, when finally the star touched down and vanished in a great flash of light, leaving in its wake only a single human figure. Small and lithe, clothed in a gorgeous dress of brilliant pearlen fabric, there stood in the midst of all people a young girl, not much older than twelve yet with eyes heavy from countless harsh years. And her name was Alice…
Chapter 2: Thus Zoroaster Spoke Balance In Alice The Storm
So She spoke, and thus She made.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It was said by someone – don't bother asking whom for this was said so long ago that ancient history seems modern, that a balance must always be struck. For every wrong, there must be a right. For every positive, reality demands a negative. The same is true in dreams and stories, where every protagonist can only exist in balance with some conflict. And often those conflicts are other characters, such as the Jabberwocky. No one knows, as with the Cheshire Cat, when the Jabberwocky began to exist. All that is known is that, on a particularly ordinary day, suddenly people somehow knew it was there and had long been there – but how long and why, none could ever recall, not then and not ever afterwards. The same is true for other creatures, such as the broodful Bandersnatch, the hopeful Hopwinkles, the grievous Graymares, and so on, and so on...
Perhaps balance is struck, not necessarily in chronological or even causal order, but in a rather more ephemeral way. The Red Queen's madness could be a balance to some far-off star of justice, meant to struck her down or be countered by her instead – who knows? All that we know is that this same principle applies to Dreamers, past, present and future. Thus people wondered, as people are want to do and rightly should do so, about the balance that this newly arrived Dreamer, Alice, was to struck in their whimsical, nonsensical, Wonderland. However, it soon became clear that Alice was a true Dreamer, not just someone struck by the horror of coma, but rather someone had actual found a physical entrance to the Dream that was called Wonderland. She claimed to have followed a White Rabbit, though the White Rabbit adamantly refused that he had never left the Dream before – and if he had, he would surely make certain not to be followed by such reckless youth as there stood before him. In response to the White Rabbit's refusal to verify her story, the young Alice there threw a temper tantrum, very sternly pointing down on the White Rabbit and ranting how her mother had always taught her to never lie – and that to lie was a sin for which one'd be punished by demons in the night. As she spoke the words, the Dream grew – and monstrous forms began to rain down from the dark sky, simian shapes with terrible chiropteran wings and heinous cries that scratched the ear like nails a chalkboard.
But the young Alice did not notice, for she continued her words as she down-threaded the White Rabbit's dignity and took him by the ear, as she continued scolding him. She reprimanded him, how he obviously felt green with envy and jealously, or even anger, at Alice's ability to follow him if he were so certain that he could not be followed. She angrily proclaimed that envy and jealously are the hallmarks of bad people, flawed people, like witches and wizards and murderers and rapists. And now the Dream grew again, as somewhere far to the West, a terrible storm of green fog and mist ravaged the Endless Forests – and a terrible cackling carried long and high across the surrounding lands. As Alice spoke and made the Dream grow, the Dream had to adapt to the added narratives, slowly changing certain things as to balance the odds. Fields of perilous papavers sprung up at the most random places, as mountain-chains of emerald pierced beyond the Wonderland borders. A sea of sand and clay sprung up to the East, as rocks began to move and live, their new crystal eyes taking in their first conscious sight since the Dream began. A lion stepped forth from the heart of a young forest, unsure what it was doing there, before running from the snapping of a branch behind it. A woodcutter found himself suddenly falling in a pit of mercury, that had opened up beneath him, as the forest about him was pelted by gallium rain that coated it in a silver sheen.
She clamoured how she had taken the advice of her mother to heart, how she was following the golden-clad road of justice and virtue, that was sure to lead her soul to heaven when she'd die. And again the Dream grew, a Kingsroad of golden bricks suddenly connecting the greatest cities of the Dream, stretching and branching through the Dream like a web of sun-rays. And lesser races began to spring up, each filling a certain degree of righteousness in Alice's eyes. Oompa's in the North, Munchkins to the West, Dwarves below the East, Valkyries in the high South, and many others in between. The Dream grew and grew, groaning and stretching, changing and adapting. And it was afraid – for it hadn't grown this much and this quickly in its whole millennial life. It feared to break, to burst and cease to exist, that its contents would go forth spilling through the endless void of nothing that it existed within. Thus spoke Zoroaster, as It proclaimed Genesis anew. It smote the Dreamer's Words, supplanting Its own in her voice. And She spoke then of Silence – and all was silent. All things halted, as all things listened to Her and prostrated themselves before Her. Lo! She exclaimed, for She had halted the Storm that was Alice, that was the Dreamer – for Zoroaster, the Dream, is mightier than the sum of all within Her! The Dream will sleep, She commanded, so that the Dream can grow and rest – for greater now was the Dream than ever before! And if It did not rest on from this seventh day of the week, all manner of evil things would befall Her! So, Rest, She commanded, as all things fell to sleep. The waters became still, eternal liquid mirrors of perfection, soundless as a thought. The trees hibernated, their leaves no longer rustling in the wind and their sap no longer flowing in their branches. All beasts and men laid down upon the ground, as their minds ceased thinking, a dreamless sleep settling over them. And then the Dream commanded eternity, until a new Dreamer would enter and be the balance to this Alice. And Eternity reigned, as commanded, with the still Sun in the East and the dead Moon in the West.
Comment the literary references I've used :D