Red Fights the Jabberwock
Rose was scared.
She had been walking for hours now, and she still couldn't find the road. She leaned against a tree, and fought the urge to cry.
It's alright, you'll be fine. Just don't panic. Rose straightened, brushing off her jeans as she did, and found herself face-to-face with a pair of golden yellow eyes.
"Eep!" Rose stumbled backwards, and only avoided falling on her butt, because of a hand that had clamped down on her wrist at the last second.
She heard a low chuckle, and looked to see those golden eyes again, twinkling with amusement.
“What, do you have a phobia of wolves or something?” A voice said. The voice wasn’t quite as deep as an adult’s yet, but it was certainly deeper than a child’s.
The person to whom the voice belonged had pale skin, almost as if they had scarcely seen the sun for the entirety of their life.
And then there were those eyes. They weren’t golden like a field of wheat, nor yellow, like an ear of corn. They were an in-between color that spoke of winters spent in dens, listening to those around you snore; of autumn, and running through leaves, play-fighting with your siblings, and climbing trees; and spring, watching the ice melt, running with your pack, rejoicing at the new life.
Rose freed her hand, and took a step back.
What was that? She stood there, facing the figure before her, and blinking in the sunlight as if she’d just woken up.
What was that just now? It was as if I were a different person. No, a different being. Rose looked down at her feet.
“Hi. My name’s Seamus.”
Rose started, looking back at the owner of the voice, who was, in fact, a boy.
He had messy silver hair, and wolf ears, as well as those haunting yellow eyes. He also had a fluffy gray tail, but that’s not necessarily important. His face still had a slightly child-like quality, but Rose could tell he was at least fourteen.
He was tall, at least six feet, and he carried himself in a proud and slightly stubborn way.
He was wearing a loose gray T-shirt that looked at least a size too big, and dark grey cargo pants, with zippers sealing the pockets shut, instead of buttons or Velcro. His shoes were tight fitting, the laces were slightly frayed, and they were possibly a size too small, but they looked comfortable.
Rose probably would have screamed, but she didn’t get the feeling he was very dangerous. Or, maybe it’s better said, she didn’t get the feeling he would hurt her intentionally.
He was dangerous, and very strong, she could tell that much from the grip he’d had on her wrist to keep her from falling, but he let go when she had tugged her hand away, so he couldn’t be all that malicious, could he?
In fact, the more she looked at him, she found herself more and more drawn to his ears, of all things.
Now, Rose was always the sort of girl to act on her impulses. And this is just what she did. She took a step forward, reached up, and rubbed the fluffy extremities attached to the boy’s head.
The boy yelped, and his face turned red as he stumbled back, slightly surprised at the forwardness of the smallish girl standing on her tiptoes to reach him.
She had brown hair, with red highlights on the ends, cut in a pixie cut, with a cross shaped clip holding the bangs out of her face.
She had on a giant red sweatshirt, and blue Capri skinny jeans.
Her eyes were a peculiar shade of brown- no, black; her irises looked like pools of glittering obsidian, though not unfriendly.
Her skin, though not as pale as the wolf’s, was a close second.
On her hands were maroon, leather, finger-less gloves, with metal studs protruding on each of the knuckles.
Her face was round, like a child’s, but her cheek bones showed clearly. She had a sprinkling of freckles across her nose, and a slight rosy tint to her cheeks.
She looks like a vampire that was turned too early. Seamus realized as he looked at the girl who had, thankfully, stopped touching his ears. The boy shivered at the vision that thought had given him.
Fighting; killing; death in general; his parents- Seamus pinched his arm to rid his head of the images that would surely follow the words running through his mind.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable, your ears just looked so fuzzy.”
Seamus cocked an eyebrow, and crossed his arms, leaning back slightly. “Were they?”
The girl nodded sheepishly, her cheeks becoming ever-so-slightly pinker.
Seamus sighed. “Well, I guess I’ll introduce myself again, since you didn’t hear me the first time. I’m Seamus the Wolf.”
The girl nodded. “Mm-hmm. My name is Rose, it’s nice to meet you, Wolf-Boy.” She grinned mischievously, and held out her hand.
Her voice, though angelic, had broken quite a few times as she spoke, and it reminded the boy of a playfully growling wolf. Any human would describe her voice as ugly, or boy-ish, but Seamus’s impression was of a haunting, beautiful sound, like listening to the howl of a lonely wolf, looking for it’s pack on a winter night, and the wolf couldn’t help but remember when that lonely wolf, had been him.
They sat there talking for a long while, and Seamus found that he enjoyed talking to Rose, the strange girl, who he’d learned was looking for the path that led to her grandmother’s house. He’d also learned that Rose’s parents had died, along with her sister, in an outbreak of the Bunny Bonnet Plague.
The two were so caught up in talking that they didn’t notice the sun setting behind the trees.
“Where do you live?” Rose asked, standing and brushing leaves off her jeans.
Rose paused. “Excuse me?”
“Wonderland. It’s a place where literally anything can happen.”
“Well, where is it?” Rose leaned against a tree.
“It’s the place you see when you look at your reflection in a mirror or a pond. It’s ruled by the Queen of Hearts, and the White Queen. The Queen of Hearts, though she is the ruler of most of Wonderland, isn’t very fair, and governs by her own rules. If anyone does anything she doesn’t like, she has the Ax Man chop their head off.”
“Well, that can’t be good at all.”
Seamus nodded. “It isn’t. I’m part of a rebel group headed by the White Queen and her daughter, Alice.”
Rose nodded, thinking. “I’d like to see this, Wonderland of yours.” She finally decided, looking back at Seamus determinedly.
“Well, soon you may have to go, whether you like it or not.”
“The Red Queen, she’s sent a Jabberwock after me. I managed to escape it for awhile, and I was wandering around, trying to find a way back when I ran into you.”
“Oh. Wait, what's a- Agh!” Rose screamed and covered her face with her arms as a tree off to her right exploded, spraying splinters and pieces of bark everywhere.
“Whoops, too late.” Seamus leapt backwards, avoiding a taloned grayish hand, of gigantic proportions. The hand looked more-or-less like the front foot of a dragon, except for it’s abnormal, and quite frankly, terrible, bodily proportions. The talons were a sickly gray-black color, and looked like burnt wood.
Despite looking exceedingly frail however, the talons proved to be as hard as rocks, if not harder, as the creature swung it’s hand at another tree, reducing this one to splinters as well.
“Come n’ get me you old- woah there!” Seamus leapt away from the creature yet again, leading it away from Rose. The creature swung it’s hand? Paw? Foot?
Well, whatever you’d call it, the appendage hit Seamus squarely in the stomach, sending him flying into a tree.
The tree splintered, but surprisingly, aside from a few cuts and scrapes, Seamus was unharmed.
Seamus snarled in a very animalistic way, and leapt at the creature, changing as he did.
First of all, the furry tail sticking out from under his gray shirt got longer, and his nose and face elongated into a snout. His arms became longer, and his wrists almost nonexistent as the bones in his hands grew and fused together. His hands turned into paws, much like the extremities of the creature that had attacked them.
Rose watched his fingernails become longer and move from the tops of his fingers, to the place where the pads of his fingers would usually be.
The last thing to happen, was coarse fur spread from Seamus’s head, down his body, until even his feet were covered. The fur wasn’t gray like his ears and tail, it was a more silver-white color, that reminded Rose of the sea on a stormy day, foam cresting at the tops of breaking waves, the water, instead of the usual blue-green, looked gray and black, like cooling iron.
By this time, Rose understood why Seamus’s clothes were several sizes too big. The reason? Well, even with his shirt being much too big, the transformation he’d just undergone had still managed to shred the gray garment and leave what was remaining to barely cling to the boy’s shoulders.
“Well, I guess I grew again. Damn it, this is what I get for not transforming for too long.”
Seamus’s voice was now much lower, closer to a growling noise than recognizable human speech patterns. However, it was still possible to discern words when he spoke.
“Crap. I’m gonna have to get a bigger shirt.”
Rose stood there in shock, looking at the boy she’d met not even two hours ago. But despite how much her new friend’s transformation had scared her, what scared her more was the thought of how cliche her life was becoming.
Oh great, I’ve walked into a teen romance novel about werewolves. Rose pinched the bridge of her nose with her fingers, sighing in disbelief.
“Why me?” She looked up as a loud thud sounded near her, and jumped about three feet in the air when a long whip-like tail came smashing into the ground, a mere foot from Rose.
“Sorry!” Seamus shouted as he ran at the creature that was getting up again, shaking it’s grotesque head on it’s long neck that was, much like it’s tail, gray, leathery, and whip-like.
“Damn beast, it just won’t give up.” Seamus jumped out of the way as one of the creature’s hands crashed down in the place his body had been.
Rose shielded her face and backed away, seeking some sort of refuge behind a tree.
I hate feeling so helpless! Rose yelled at herself in her head. I can’t fight that thing, and Seamus is alone out there, trying to protect me! Rose sighed.
You could fight alongside him. A voice said, speaking in her mind.
Rose looked up, eyes wide, and looked around for the owner of the voice, before realizing it had been her own subconscious mind.
Rose stood, a determined glint in her now steely obsidian eyes.
She stepped aside as Seamus was thrown into yet another tree, but this time, he didn’t get up.
The creature, although ginormous, was strangely agile, and coordinated. But when it swept its tail at Rose, she was ready.
She jumped at the last second, the gray mass sweeping under her, missing her feet by inches. She landed in a crouch, taking a moment to assess her situation, before jumping onto the fore-leg of the Jabberwock, and then from there, onto it’s back.
The creature’s back had spikes going along it’s spine from the base of it’s neck, to the tip of it’s tail. The spikes on it’s tail shrunk in length the farther away they were from the body of the creature, the shortest being only a few inches tall, and the longest being nearly three and a half feet tall.
Rose used the spikes to climb along the creature’s monolithic back, stopping every once and awhile as the Jabberwock shook, trying to throw off it’s unwelcome passenger. Soon though, Rose would run out of spikes. And then she would have to find some other way to prevent herself from falling off.
As Rose reached the last spike before the Jabberwock’s neck, a stabbing pain overcame her senses, making her cry out as she clutched her head, the source of the pain.
Visions flashed through her head. Visions of wolves, one wolf in particular. And a man, with an ax, splitting open the wolf’s belly, freeing his wife, and daughter. A small boy watched from the wood, slowly transforming, and running to rejoin his pack. Then, all of a sudden, the visions, the pain, all of it, disappeared.
Rose steadied herself, shaking her head to clear it, and then ran along the Jabberwock’s neck until she reached its disproportionate head. Once there, she grabbed hold of the ridge above it’s eye, and swung down, until she was looking into the depths of it’s orange-sized yellow orb.
The eye had no pupil, no space for anything other than the iris.
Rose growled in concentration as she swung backwards, and kicked the creature in the eye. The Jabberwock roared, and thrashed about, screaming and making the birds take flight from the fearsome noise.
In that moment, Rose remembered a poem-like story her grandmother had told her, long ago, when she had visited:
"‘Twas brilig in the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with it’s head
He went galumphing back.
‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled his joy.
"A Jabberwock is a most fearsome beast, with poison fangs, and talons harder than rocks. With a whip on both ends, and thunder in the middle! Beware if you ever happen to meet such a beast as that, young Missy! Now, let’s see that scratch on your arm.”
Rose’s eyes began to tear up as she remembered her Granny, the witty, silver-haired old crone who’d taken her in after her parents had lost it, hopping around like a bunch of rabbits with bonnets on their heads, and could no longer care for her.
No one else had wanted her, she used to always bite people who got too close. Kleiner Volf, her grandmother used to call her.
Rose lost her grip on the Jabberwock, and was flung off. She hit a tree square in the back, and it’s a wonder every bone in her body didn’t break at that moment, though she still fell unconscious.
Alice looked up from lacing her brown knee-high combat boots as she heard the beating of wings outside her shared tent.
Her breastplate, chain-mail belt and sword still lay on the cot in her corner of the tent, and she hadn’t tied her hair back with the little blue ribbon sitting on the collapsible table by her bed.
As she reached for the silver chest plate, as busty girl with iridescent black wings walked through the tent flap, and stood, holding a squirming figure by the neck of their tunic.
“Leggo! Damn bird, lemme go!” The demands were phrased so childishly, that Alice almost laughed. She caught herself just in time, as a snort sprang from her lips.
Ani, the bird-girl, flicked the boy in the forehead, and smirked as he swung his caramel blond head from side to side, trying to bite the gloved fingers of the black-haired girl holding him captive.
Alice rolled her eyes, and readjusted the gold knee protectors on her legs, shifting them to a more comfortable position, dragging the silver, diamond shaped plates covering her lower thigh along as well.
“Which of the Animalia did James harass this time?” Alice said, reaching for the chest plate and sliding it over her head.
“Hey! I beg your pardon, your Majesty, but-”
“Shut it, you.” Ani poked him roughly in the ribs with her boot, and Alice shook her head in dismay, pulling the chain-mail belt around her waist and fastening it with the pentagonal silver and gold crest of the Resistance.
“I’ll never be able to live that down, will I?”
“No!” Alice’s mother shouted playfully from outside the tent as she walked past, undoubtedly to some sort of important meeting Alice was supposed to attend with her.
“Yeah, thanks a lot!” Alice shouted back, tying the blue ribbon in a bow at the top of her head, and grabbing her sword from the cot.
“Come on,” she muttered to the Raven, and swiftly walked out of the tent.
As soon as Alice stepped out of her shared living quarters, she felt like she needed to grab onto something to prevent herself from being swept up in the flood of people coming from the dining pavilion.
“And it’s not even breakfast yet,” She said, slipping the sword, and it’s sheath, through the gold attachment on her belt and tying on the sheath with a royal purple sash.
“Lemme go! Hey, lemme go you fucking useless bird-woman!” James was yelling again.
Alice pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. Just. Shut. Up. For. One. Second! Is what she wanted to yell at him, but she had appearances to keep, (and she was far too polite to say that to anyone, no matter how much of a slimy git they were,) so she said instead: “Quiet. You’re impeding my thought process.”
“Did you just tell me to shut up?”
“Indirectly, yes,” She smiled coldly, and James shivered in Ani’s grasp.
Sometimes it was easy to forget that Alice, the busty, sweet and polite girl who would laugh at the smallest things, was also a ruthless military tactical genius, and killed Jabberwocky as a living.
“Hey beautiful-” James started to say, but Alice interrupted him.
“Ani, could you please take him out of my sight before I kick him in the side of the head?”
“That’s a little extreme, don’t you think?”
“No, not at all. Ani, please? I have a meeting to go avoid.”
Ani simply nodded, and then James was airborne again, and screaming for his life. That’s right, not only was he a slimy git, he was a spineless slimy git.
As soon as Ani and James had taken to the sky, Alice exhaled a long breath she’d been holding.
“And now, a reason not to go to that stupid meeting,” She began searching the crowd for three figures who would definitely have given her a reason not to go to the meeting.
Finally, her icy orbs came to rest upon three figures arguing quietly under a tree. They seemed strangely well-hidden, for three cats arguing in the middle of a clearing. The figures were standing in a triangle, and having a very heated argument by the looks of it.
The figure on the left, the side closest to Alice, was male, about five and a half feet tall, with short messy pink/purple hair, a pair of ragged purple cat ears, and a striped purple and pink tail.
He wore a tattered purple hoodie, and worn denim skinny jeans. On his feet were a pair of black mud-splattered combat boots with steel toes.
To Clive’s right, stands a girl who looks very much like her twin brother. She has the same ears, same tail, her hair is a shade or two darker than Clive’s, and shaved off on one side. She wears a black sleeveless turtleneck that ends just above her waist, and a knee-length skirt with a slit down the left side.
Under the skirt she wears ripped tights, and on her feet are what appear to be socks, but one blow from her foot can knock the breath out of you, as Alice has learned firsthand.
The last is a busty girl, about sixteen or seventeen, with long dark blue hair, and a rounder face than the other two. In comparison, her ears are sleek, and point diagonally off from her head, rather than straight, like Clive's and Chess'. Her tail is bushier, but has roughly the same color scheme as her siblings, though darker.
She wears a tight-fitting blue turtle-neck sweater, and a long skirt, slit down the side. She has knee-high boots that are knit, and uses them to hide her throwing knives.
Kat, eldest of the Cheshire siblings.
The three of them turn as they feel themselves being watched, and search the crowd until they find their “stalker,” so-to-speak.
Clive’s yellow eyes zeroed in on the blond, and he smiled. It was nice to know someone cared, even if they were kind of staring creepily at you.
The female warrior blushed, and quickly looked away.
“She is still a girl, you know,” Kat said, watching her brother’s face fall as Alice looked away.
The girl known as Alice walked toward a petite woman with a tea cup on her head; Merrie Hatter.
Alice’s long blond hair, always secured by a blue bow on the top of her head, shifts in a breeze that blows through their current clearing occasionally. The breeze blows Alice’s white skirt against her legs, and the purple sash attached to her sword belt behind her.
She shifts her weight from her left leg, to her right, and the knee and upper-thigh armor plates she wears clink against each other as she moves.
Merrie says something, and Alice’s cheeks turn pink and start to puff out, like they do when she’s angry, and Clive knows that he’s completely and utterly hopeless.
“Hey, Clive,” Alice calls, having calmed down a bit, “can you help March a moment?”
Clive nodded eagerly, and Chess suppressed a snicker. After her brother has left however, she begins shamelessly laughing.
“Oh man,” she said, wiping a tear from her eye. “He is so whipped.”
Kat giggled as a small person with white bunny ears, red eyes, and silvery hair appeared from behind the tree they were standing under, and pulled at Kat’s skirt to get her attention.
“Hm?” Kat looked down at the small rabbit, and smiled kindly.
The rabbit had gold rimmed half-moon glasses, and a long red coat that ended at it’s knees. The sleeves of the coat covered the poor dear’s hands, and still would, even if they were to be rolled up several times.
“Rabbs, what is it?” Chess said, crouching by the now trembling rabbit, who shook its head, making his ears flop about, and his shoulder-length silver white hair even messier than it had already been.
The rabbit’s eyes darted back and forth, looking from Kat to Chess, and back again. “It’s in the wood.”
The rabbit had mumbled this sentence so quietly, that both girls had to lean in as the poor animal repeated itself.
“It’s in the wood.”
“What is, Rabbs?” Chess moves to pet the head of her shuddering friend, but the rabbit won’t let her.
Kat tries next. “Rabbity? Can you tell us what’s in the wood?”
The rabbit is hyperventilating now, it’s wide red orbs darting everywhere, looking for a place to bolt.
“Rabb-” Chess was interrupted by a flash of silvery light, and the sound of a Jabberwock appearing back in Wonderland. The White Rabbit bolted, and everyone in the camp stopped what they were doing, just waiting for the creature to burst through the trees surrounding the clearing and wreak havoc.
When nothing happened for a few minutes, the Resistance sighed in relief and went back to their own business, satisfied that the Queen's barriers were holding.
Everyone, except Alice. The blonde continued to stare at the thick belt of trees, concentrating hard, as if she was trying to fry the trees with her mind.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder, and she started, looking around frantically.
Clive stepped back, raising his hands in surrender, two chain pistols already swinging from his waist. “Woah, there. Everything alright? You seem a little tense.”
Alice blinked, then nodded. “I’m fine. But I’ve got a bad feeling, like something, ugh, I don’t know how to describe it.”
Alice crossed her arms tightly over her chest and suppressed a shiver. “Like something’s amiss.” She said, finding the right words. Clive raised an eyebrow, and his ears swiveled to face the edge of the clearing.
He nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got that feeling too.” The two of them stood awhile in thought, and then Clive’s head snapped up, his eyes wide with panic.
“Shouldn’t Seamus have been back by now?”
Alice’s eyes widened as she realized that the cat was right.Seamus should have been back hours ago. Something had happened to the wolf.