Charles stood as he watched his daughter grieve the capture of the man she loved. The sound her tears tore at Charles’ heartstrings, making him feel absolutely helpless in this situation.
Slowly, so as not to startle her, he walked over to her and knelt beside her. Alice did not even register that there was anyone near her; such was her level of anguish and pain.
In an attempt to comfort his daughter, Charles wrapped his arms around Alice in silent comfort. Alice’s tears continued to fall, giving voice to her sorrow and pain. Mirana watched the scene, touched at the clear affection Charles had for his daughter and the pain he was feeling at not being able to alleviate his daughter’s pain.
Alice herself felt as if her world was being torn apart.
After what had felt like many hours of walking to Tarrant, as the pain in his feet attested to, he and his captors reached their destination. Tarrant was glad for the chance to be able to rest and be free of the rough ropes that held him captive; however he recoiled when he recognised his surroundings.
Of course, since breaking her exile, Iracebeth had once again taken up residence in the now crumbling and fading palace in Crims. The towers were partially broken as the White Knights had sought to destroy the building after the Frabjous Day and the liberation of Underland.
Tarrant hissed as he was thrown roughly into one of the cells in the dungeon. Ironically, it was the same one he was placed in the last time that he had been imprisoned by the Red Queen before Frabjous Day, a gesture that was no doubt supposed to torture him further.
He looked gloomily through the bars of the prison and wandered what had happened to Alice as his eyes slowly faded to a dull yellow. He hoped that Alice would be strong and try to find a way to free him from the clutches of the Red Queen.
Alice sat in the bright garden, mulling over the events of last night. She was still reeling from the shock of Tarrant’s capture, feeling personally responsible for his capture due to her lack of action in defending the palace. She also mourned the fact that she had been unable to fully express her feelings for Tarrant and she hated the fact that he did not know how she felt for him.
Mirana gazed out of her throne room window into the garden below at her Champion. She hated to see anyone so despondent, but especially her dear friends. In that moment, Mirana resolved to bring Tarrant back, if only to see her Champion happy once more.
Alice’s thoughts, after a while turned to the worst. In quick succession, scenes of her Hatter being tortured in one form after another flew through her mind, ending in his beheading. She hoped that none of these fates befell Tarrant however she could not help her thoughts as she knew well the reputation that the deposed Queen had and that she would do anything within her power to harm Alice by harming Tarrant. These disturbing thoughts reduced her to tears when she thought that she could not shed any more.
Tarrant’s thoughts of Alice were interrupted by the jarring creak of the prison door opening to reveal the infamous and slimy Knave, Ilosovich Stayne.
Tarrant made no attempt to face his captor. He could not care less about why Stayne had come.
“How do you like your new accommodation? Only the best for a member of the Hightopp clan, I assure you.” Stayne said snidely as he casually walked up to Tarrant’s cell.
Tarrant glared, for Stayne’s speech had caused him to turn to face him in anger, causing Stayne to laugh.
“You think dear Alice will come for you? She has been broken and your absence will hurt her more than I ever could.” Stayne said with a smirk, before leaving the dungeon.
Stayne’s words caused Tarrant to slump against the damp wall of the cell, defeated. His shoulders slowly rose and fell as he cried for the torture both he and Alice were being forced to endure.
“Crying will not help Alice.” A voice announced above the despondent Hatter.
Tarrant looked up, slightly confused, as he had believed that he was alone. When he realised that it was Chess, he slowly dried his tears.
“Hello Chess, come to gloat have you?” Tarrant asked, his eyes flashing orange for a moment before returning to the dull yellow they had assumed in recent days.
Chess looked quite offended, his signature grin disappearing before he replied, “No. I come as a friend and in service to our Queen and Champion. Do you wish to give Alice a message? I will tell her that you are despondent if you do not give me any other message. Tarrant, do not lose hope. Alice will come for you.” Chess said as he floated around Tarrant’s shoulders.
“What could I tell her? She knows what the Red Queen is capable of,” Tarrant mused before an idea struck him, prompting him to continue, “Chess, could you tell Alice that I love her?” Tarrant asked as his voice broke due to the depth of emotion in his voice.
“Of course. Goodbye friend.” Chess said as he disappeared once more.
Tarrant once again found himself with his thoughts.
Alice attempted to listen to Mirana’s plan however her attention continued to waver. Mirana frequently had to repeat elements of her plan due to Alice inattention.
Mirana’s plan was quite good, Alice decided. Mirana’s troops would be involved in an attack on the castle where Chess would guide them to where the Hatter was being held captive, all whilst trying to avoid Iracebeth and Stayne. However no mention was made of Alice’s role in the plan which led her to believe that she would not be involved at all. This fact disappointed her due to the fact that she would have liked to have been the one to save the Hatter.
The discussions continued over the next two days and it was during one of these discussions that Chess appeared to both Alice and Mirana.
“Chess! You’re back!” Alice exclaimed excitedly, which was a change from the gloomy disposition that she had adopted in recent days.
Chess grinned before he responded, “Champion, Mirana. I have found where the Hatter is being held. I also have a message for you Alice.”
“Where is he, Chess?” Mirana asked curiously as she had wondered where her sister had been keeping her dear friend.
“The Hatter is being held in the palace dungeons of Crims.” Chess replied grimly.
Alice’s hands flew to her mouth in shock and horror as silent tears fell down her face. Mirana placed a hand on her Champion’s shoulder in comfort which appeared to be enough for Alice to regain her composure.
Alice smiled sheepishly before she said, “Forgive me. I did not expect for him to be held there. Chess, what was the message that you had for me?”
“Come with me, my dear, and I will tell you.” Chess said mysteriously.
Together they left Mirana in the throne room and began to walk down the pristine white hallway. Once Chess deemed that they were a suitable distance from the throne room, he stopped and motioned for Alice to do the same.
“Alice, I have a message from the Hatter. He wishes to tell you that he loves you.” Chess said.
Alice smiled for even when he was imprisoned, Tarrant’s thoughts had been for her.
“Chess, would you please deliver a message to Tarrant for me?” Alice asked, hoping that the pesky feline would agree to do the same for her as he had done for Tarrant.
“Of course, Champion.” Chess replied with a slight nod of his head as his grin grew wider.
“Please tell Tarrant that I love him and always will. Please also tell him that he will be rescued.” Alice said, a sudden urgency seeping into her voice.
Chess nodded once more and faded into nothingness.
Alice hoped that Chess would deliver her message. She disliked feeling so helpless and thus an idea came to her- she would rescue the Hatter that very night.