WILL WONDER NEVER CEASE
The fairytale world is a tea-riffically curious place. I don't come from a line of great heroes, yet everyone knows my story. My mom is Alice. Yes, that Alice, the one who adventured in Wonderland. It's my destiny to travel down the rabbit hole into the curiouser and curiouser world of vanishing cats, tea-drinking hatters, and playing card queens. I always looked forward to following my mom's footsteps. At Ever After High, I guess that would make me a Royal, which is kind of its own riddle since I don't have a crown.
What's Ever After High? It's where future fairytles go to learn how to follow their family legacy. It's great for "normal" fairytales, but "normal" rules never applied in Wonderland. The entire land is a Wonderlandifully mad riddle that cannot be solved. At least it was, before Evil Queen's curse. After that, Wonderland's madness spun dangerously out of control. It took some time, but eventually I got out. But that's a story for another day. I'm at Ever After High now, and I'm going to make sure nothing changes my destiny.
During my first week at Ever After High, Headmaster Grimm didn't know what classes I should be in. Even though my story is an adventure, it has nothing to do with climbing towers or fighting dragons. In the end, he decided to lump me in with the other guys. I spent most of my time just watching the clock. Tick-tock, the clock strikes one. Tick-Tock, the clock strikes two. Riddle me, I thought, there's nothing uniquely curious about a clock that only tells the right time.
"EXACTLY!" Professor King Charming enthusiastically slammed his desk, and I snapped out of a daydream. "And that brings us to your Hero Training assignment for the week: present to the entire class a report on when you were a hero." He stared at me. "I look forward to hearing your story."
Since when I arrived, everyone's been talking about what "really" happened in Wonderland. Rumors grew faster than a person after eating a slice of Wonderland cake labeled EAT ME. Just the other day I overheard "Alistair single-handedly defeated the Evil Queen."
It sounds heroic, but it's not the truth. I needed to talk to the only friend who would ever understand, because she was by my side the entire time: the daughter of the White Rabbit, Bunny Blanc.
Bunny's been my best friend forever after since the first time we met. She has beautiful mint green eyes and cheeks that never stop blushing. From the beginning, I was able to talk to her like we'd known each other for years. We've been inseparable since.
After class, I hext messaged her and waited near the Grimnastics field bleachers. She's almost late. I smiled. Bunny has a way of never showing up early, but always right on time. I fished my watch out of my pocket. The memory of the last time I looked at my watch waiting for Bunny washed over me.
It was back in the Wonderland JubJub Forest. I was watching the seconds tick away when the oddest thing happened ... it began snowing. "That's curious," I pondered a single snowflake.
"Oh rabbit's foot, you've found a riddle, haven't you?" Bunny popped up behind me. "Now you'll never stop until you find the answer to it."
The snowflake didn't melt on my finger. Curiousier. "It's never this cold in the Jubjub Forest." Suddenly, an apple zipped past my head. A sour-faced tumtum tree plucked a second apple from it's branch and flung it. "Since when do tumtum trees grow apples?"
"Alistair?" I snapped out of my daydream, and Bunny was gently shaking my shoulder. I looked around. There were no tumtum trees or Jubjub Forest. There were only bleachers and an empty Grimnastic field.
After taking a moment to clear my head, I told Bunny about Hero Training. "What happens when everyone finds out I'm not really a hero?" I asked her.
The next day, people kept stopping me to say that they couldn't wait to hear my story. It quickly became overwhelming. I needed to get away, and ducked inside the empty muse-ic classroom. At least, I thought it was empty.
"Alistair?" Raven Queen peered out from behind the piano. Her mom is the Evil Queen, and while they are so different, they looked so much alike. When Raven smiled at me, it was all too familiar.
The last time I saw that smile was when Bunny and I ran to Card Castle to tell the Queen of Hearts about the snow and the apple. Instead of the royal card guards greeting us at the gate, it was a lone hooded figure. All I could see was her smile from within the shadow of the cloak. "The Queen's unavailable. What do you want?"
Suspicious, I showed her the apple. She stopped smiling and slammed the gate shut.
"That was rude," said Bunny.
I pondered the apple. "That was the Evil Queen."
"Um, Alistair? Hello?" Raven tapped me on the shoulder. What was going on? I wasn't in Wonderland, but the memories were so thick. Raven rubbed the back of her head. "Look, I'm glad that you're here. I want you to know, I'm okay with you telling people what my mom really did. People deserve to know the truth."
I couldn't stop pondering her smile as I left the room. "The truth," I repeated aloud. What was the truth ... really? I was going to find the answer.
Questions, questions, so many questions. Why did the Evil Queen want to take over Wonderland? More importantly, what was the curse? Finding that answer was the key.
Fortunately, I have a friend who knows the most hat-tastic place to find answers. Maddie, the daughter of the Mad Hatter, told me where Ever After High hides its fairytale secrets: the Vault of Lost Tales. I knocked against the back wall of the library.
FLASH! Suddenly I was in a maze of books. I made several random turns and found myself standing in front of an empty desk. "Looking for answers, Alistair?" said a voice from behind a book pile. It was the school's librarian, Giles Grimm. "Let me guess. You're here because of the Wonderland curse?"
"Nobody really knows what it is," I confirmed. The memories shuffled through my head like flashcards. The snow. The apples. "It's like the Evil Queen was trying to change Wonderland into her story ... into Snow White."
Librarian Grimm adjusted his glasses and opened a book. "Wonderland's magical wonder is extremely delicate. What might be a simple spell anywhere else can have unpredictable results in Wonderland." Pieces fit into place like a puzzle. "The Evil Queen couldn't know how her magic was going to transform Wonderland." Librarian Grimm looked up at me. Another piece slid into place. "Did she actually cast the curse?"
Librarian Grimm closed the book. "The Evil Queen wanted to rule all fairytales. I hoped for a quick arrest. Unfortunately, the magic threw Wonderland out of balance. We could not stop the curse." He took a deep breath. "It may have been caused by the Evil Queen's magic, but we pushed her to the limit. We did not mean to, but truth is truth. It is as much our fault as it is hers."
My head was spinning. I wanted to go home. Of course that wasn't an option. So I went to the only place here that feels like home - Wonderland Grove. It's a puzzling piece of wilderness that grows with a bit of Wonderland magic. I lay down among the freshly painted red rose bushes.
"Alistair?" Maddie's teacup shoes clincked nearby. "Oh, there he is."
Told you he would be down here," said Lizzie Hearts, Princess of Wonderland, who was followed by my favorite Cheshire, Kitty. And behind her hopped Bunny.
I pondered a cloud that looked like a caterpillar. "I appreciate you looking for me and all, but if you don't mind, I'd like to be alone."
"As it so happens, we do mind." Kitty sternly crossed her arms. "What's this about you thinking you're not a real hero? You're the reason we're safe."
They were right. Maybe I was just frustrated that I hadn't solved the riddle behind the Wonderland curse. Now that I had, I had no business to not believe in myself. "I have a paper to write."
Hero Training class was much more crowded than usual on the day of my report. It seemed like everyone at Ever After High showed up to hear what really happened to me in Wonderland. Bunny gave me a wink and a nod, and everything else just melted away.
I started in the Jubjub Forest, with the snow, the apples, and then moved on to meeting the Evil Queen at Card Castle. Then i told about our discovery that changed everything: the teachers from Ever After High discussing evacuating Wonderland. We rushed to find our friends. Maddie was first, then Kitty, but Lizzie was locked inside Car Castle. "Fortunately, I had a plan. The Evil Queen didn't know Wonderland like we knew Wonderland. Our best strategy to rescue Lizzie was misdirection. We had to move fast.
"But the Evil Queen was faster. When she appeared out of thin air, we zig-zagged around the castle, but no matter what direction we went, there she was. It was only a matter of time before she would catch us. I told Maddie and Bunny to go, and I ran into the Queen of Heart's hedge maze.
"It worked at first, but then I made a wrong turn. I was cornered. When I turned around, the Evil Queen was right there, smiling that wicked smile.
"All I could do was hope that the others got away. I closed my eyes as she stalked forward. Suddenly, the ground beneath me collapsed. I was falling down a hole ... a rabbit hole. Bunny arrived just in time. 'The gateway to Ever After is about to close,' she said.
"Hoping we were fast enough, we popped out of the rabbit hole, right near the gate. Maddie's foot disappeared through the gateway. BAM! There was a huge magical explosion. We were too late. The gateway was closed. We were trapped in Wonderland. At least we knew our friends were safe."
You could hear a pin drop in that classroom. Bunny, Kitty, Lizzie and Maddie all had tears in their eyes. "A true hero isn't measured in how many dragons he" I smiled at Bunny "or she has slain. A true hero is measured by action in the face of fear."
The classroom ripped into applause. I may not be a prince or knight, but I know what it means to do the right thing. And for that I got an A ... in a class that I shouldn't have been taking in the first place.