Chapter One

“Off with his head!” the voice rang, a klaxon in the courtroom.

“B-but your highness,” a white rabbit bumbled, “the defendant has no body to be separated from!”

A striped purple cat grinned from ear to ear, consumed in its own toothy smile.

“Off with his head, I say! Off with all of your heads!” Steam seemed to billow from the ears of the Queen of Hearts, her face a bright beet red. “This is insubordination!”

“This is impossible,” Alice muttered to herself, and then stood to exit the room. She was followed by the echoes of the Queen of Hearts’ wailings, shrill and shriek in the relative stillness of the hedges outside. It occurred to her then that she had never seen the Queen’s palace, only her courthouse, but then again it was probably a house of cards or some other such nonsense.

As she walked she passed the roses from earlier, bleeding red paint from their petals. A few flamingos hobbled about the grass as well, making pleasant conversation with the hedgehogs.

“Curious,” she breathed, continuing onwards through the hedges.

The smell of scented smoke wafted through the maze, a familiar smell Alice could only identify as purple.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” Alice whispered, not for the first time that day.

She followed the scent through the maze, eyes closed and ignorant of the bread-and-butter flies flitting about. When she opened them again she was outside the maze, the courthouse only a picture on the horizon behind her.

The scent continued in smoky curls over a pathway, beckoning her to follow.

“I’m quite sure that was not here when I arrived,” Alice spoke to herself, concerned. “Though maybe this is the exit of the maze, and I arrived through the entrance. That would only make sense, although in this place I probably arrived at the exit and exited through the entrance.”

She found herself thoroughly confused at her own words, so decided to follow the path to whatever strange place it might lead.

“Anything, after all, is better than that Queen and her cacophonous court.”

And with that sentiment in mind, she disappeared into the woods.

                                                             ♦◊♦

He turned quickly, keyblades raised in a defensive stance: Oathkeeper stretched out before him, Oblivion high above his shoulder.

His eyes caught the figure of a girl, familiar in a vague way. Blonde hair flowed over her shoulders, held back by a black band across her head. She was sitting atop a toadstool, heaving sobs while talking to herself.

Roxas took a tentative step towards her, unable to conjure where in his memory she resided. Or rather, where in Sora’s memory.

“What did you say?” he asked, startling the girl.

“I-I,” she began, “I was thinking how, when one is lost, it is good advice to stay where you are.” A whimper, and a sudden, stifled sob. “But I never follow my own advice, and now, well, and now I am here. Wherever here is.”

“I’d like to know the same,” echoed Roxas. He shrugged his shoulders, laying his blades at his feet before sitting beside the girl. “At least I know there are other people here. I think I remember you, but I can’t think of your name.”

An idea burst into his mind, which he promptly shared with the girl. “Maybe if you tell me your name, I could figure out where we are!”

A smile peeked from the girls lips. “Alice,” she said. “My name is Alice.”

“That is a very nice name, though I don’t think it helped me remember much about this place,” Roxas lamented. “Oh, and my name is—”

“Sora,” Alice finished for him. “You were here a few times before, and then you rescued me from Maleficent.”

Roxas’ mouth dropped open, unsure of how to react.

“Are you here to rescue me again?” she asked, innocently. “I would be very grateful if you did, as I miss my home so much.” With a sigh she adds, “and Dinah.”

“I don’t know if I can, Alice,” Roxas uttered in a sombre whisper. “I don’t know if I can save even myself.”

“Oh, then I shall be lost here forever!” Alice sobbed into her hands. “I just want to go home…”

Roxas sat silently, feeling altogether useless. Alice cried beside him, yearning to be home again. As she slipped into sobs, though, Roxas noticed something peculiar: around them, things were disappearing.

“Alice,” Roxas ventured uneasily.

The bizarre creatures that had gathered about them unnoticed were sharing Alice’s tears, only to fade away into nothingness.

Nothingness. Emptiness. Darkness. Frantic words racing through Roxas’ mind.

“Alice!”

The End

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