A NEW ORIENTATION
Hey diddle, diddle! I have a riddle, from Madeline Hatter to you! Madeline is me, or Maddie for short, but also for tall people too.
*translated from Riddlish: "Hi my name is Maddie. Do you want to hear a riddle?"
What can you do with your mind, and have of your heart; What makes music in your purse, and is not the same from the start? Give up? The answer is "change"! It's a word most fairytales don't like too much. They usually like to do the same thing over and over again. Red Riding Hood always wonders why grandma's teeth are so big. Goldilocks always eats Baby Bear's porridge. And my dear dad, the Mad Hatter of Wonderland, always has a riddle-filled tea party with a puzzlingly normal girl named Alice. As the children of these legends, we go to Ever After High. But we don't just go to school... we live, eat, and sleep there. The Headmaster says we need to master reliving our parent's stories, or "following our destinies". That's all dandy candy to me. My destiny is hat-tastic! But my best friend 'til THE END, Raven Queen wasn't so lucky. Her mom is the wicked Evil Queen, and Raven's just wicked awesome. It's so sad! I'd want to hang up my hat too if my legacy was to be the bearer of poison apples. But there I go, putting the cup before the kettle. Let me start from the start.
Every year before the first day of school, Headmaster Grimm requests that all students attend a week of Orientation. Of course it's mandatory, but he likes to be polite. This year is special. On Legacy Day, we were to unlock the Storybook of Legends and pledge to follow our parents' fabled footsteps. I couldn't wait to throw my first Wonderland tea party! Of course, there was the small problem that they sealed the portal back home. Apparently the Queen of Hearts "lost a few cards from her deck", and became the Queen of Crazy. Wonderland was declared too dangerous. This made Princess Lizzie Hearts terribly upset, which is a shame. Lizzie's really a sweetheart, even though she's always shouting "OFF WITH THIS!" and "OFF WITH THAT!"
Anyway, we all gathered in the Charmitorium for our "Book to School" assembly. I always found the seats in the Charmitorum too uncomfortably rigid. The royal students have comfy lounge thrones in the top-level balcony, but that's another story. I dug through my magic hat for a seat cushion when I saw something strange: a dark room filled with spider webs. I knew right away I was having a vision.
It happens from time to time. You see, the world is so crazy that I sometimes see through the madness and into the future. It's really fun and exciting, especially since I never know when it's going to happen! Unfortunately, nobody ever believes me for some reason. Oh well! Inside the dark room was a cracked mirror. And not just any mirror...
The Magic Mirror. Silky fog started slipping out, when the mirror suddenly looked right at me and spoke one word... Raven.
The vision suddenly ended and I was back in the Charmitorium. I tried to tell Raven what I saw, but she just looked sad and confused. Maybe the Headmaster gave his usual speech about embracing your destiny. Or maybe I spoke in Riddlish again. You know about Riddlish, right? It's the riddle language of Wonderland. I sometimes forget that non-Wonderlandians just hear it as mad babbling.
"MADELINE HATTER!" Professor Rumpelstiltskin loudly squeaked my name. I joined the tour group with my friends Cedar, Blondie and Kitty Cheshire. Kitty is from Wonderland too. She smiles all the time, even when she's annoyed, which seems to be all the time. Despite what she might tell people, Kitty and I are great friends. "Oh godmother. It's Maddie. Tell me, can I ever rid myself of you?"
I love her riddles! Let's see... "rid myself"... Kitty vanishes when she gets bored. Things that are "boring" are "dull". And it's "of me". She knows I love riddles. That's it! "You 'rid dull' with riddles! I mean, you riddle with 'riddles'! Good one, Kitty!"
At first she sighed, but then perked up and scribbled on a piece of paper. "One more riddle for Maddie," she gave me a drawing of monster smashing a town. "What's this worth to you?"
"Oh Kitty! That's too easy." A picture is worth a thousand words, and where's the best place to find words? The library! I dashed to find the answer as Kitty roared with laughter. I'll show her! She can't out-riddle me!
I love when the unexpected happens! Like I expected the librarian to help, but all she did was "shush" me. So I flipped through the Encyclopedia of Monsters, and History of Villages & Beasts that Destroyed Them, but they were more disturbing than helpful. Right when I was going to give up, I heard a knocking coming from the distance. There was something familiar about it. It wasn't a knock that said "Hello, I'm at the door." No, it was more like "Find me, if you can." I LOVE hide-and-go-seek! I also love knock-knock jokes. This was two goodies wrapped into one! Just as I was about to start, the librarian kicked me out. No problem. "See you tomorrow," I knocked back.
The sign on my dorm door said Raven was my roommate. Yay! She's felt so cursed lately, I couldn't wait to cheer her up with an epic Maddie tea party! I unpacked my best tea pots, and when Raven opened the door, she gleefully sang my name! I gave her a big hug and bigger cup of tea, then asked about her day. She rolled her eyes and puffed her cheeks.
While I was knocking around, she was on a tour with the other fairytale "villains". Apparently they worship that she's the next Evil Queen. What a fairy-fail! But I know what makes Raven say "Hex yeah!" She loves this Wonderland game called "If I Didn't". It's a rhyming game where you imagine how to turn something dully ordinary into something else wonderfully extraordinary!
Raven started our game with, "If I didn't sleep in a bed..." I imagined someplace soft and cozy to sleep. I know! "... I would nap in a warm bread!" It was my turn. I wanted something to make Raven smile. Oh duh, of course! "If I didn't have to be the Evil Queen..." Raven had trouble with this one. Almost like she couldn't find a rhyme for "Queen". After a minute of thinking, she whispered "I don't know."
Yes! Victory is mine! "Ha! I win Raven! Let's play again!"
I wish I still lived with Raven. Too bad Headmaster Grimm let Apple White switch dorms to be her new roommate.
I awoke to the sound of knocking. I knocked back "Ready or not, here I come!" I followed the knocking back to the library. This must be how Hansel and Gretel felt following the breadcrumbs!
When I went past the back office, I hit a wall. But it was a secret door wall! I knocked, "I found you, now let me in."
With a FLASH, I went from the school library to a maze filled with dusty old books. The knocking was much louder in here. Hallway after hallway, I twisted, wound and rounded, until finally I walked into an office with books scattered all over, and a bearded old man knocking on his desk. And imagine my surprise when he spoke Riddlish!
"Tapping two-ways trickle down, unto too fickle upside frown!"
*Translation: "I'm so happy! Someone finally heard my knocking call!"
I grinned, "White knight, sunshine; a place, a face, I have mine?"
*Translation: "Hello, what's your name?"
"Atop a crown, a whistle, steam! A book so sad but does not dream!"
*Translation: "Ah, you must be the daughter of the Mad Hatter! I'm the Master Librarian, Giles Grimm."
Librarian Grimm was cursed with a babble spell and locked in the Vault of Lost Tales. Now he's searching for the spell to break the curse. Then it dawned on me... Raven knows about spells! I told him, but he looked worried. Most people do. You'd think the daughter of the Evil Queen would be good at magic, but her spells usually backfire. That, and people assume she's mean just because of who her mom is.
"She's really nice," I reassured him, "She doesn't even want to be the Evil Queen."
Suddenly Librarian Grimm shot out of his chair, and said that I must bring Raven to him. He had something to tell her.
I searched all over for Raven. Finally, when there was nowhere else to look, I went back to the library, and there she was! What luck! I tried to tell her what happened, but she couldn't understand. Maybe I was speaking Riddlish again. So, I just took her to the Vault of Lost Tales.
When I brought her to Librarian Grimm, he slammed the book he was reading.
"Flipping flapjacks ripping rust! Cutting corners dawn to dust!"
*Translation: "I'm frustrated! How long until I find the spell I need?"
I approached him. "Horsehoes, clovers, rabbits feet! Feathers, friends, we share a seat!"
*Translation: "Lucky for you, Raven and I are here to help you."
The next bit of Riddlish was a jumble. But when he pointed at Raven, I'm pretty sure he meant, "Listen, daughter of the Evil Queen. Destiny is a myth. If you pledge on Legacy Day to rewrite your own destiny, everyone will be free to choose their own Happily Ever After."
Tea-riffic! It's everything Raven always wanted! She doesn't have to be the Evil Queen! Nobody had to follow their parents' stories! Not even me!
Wait a spell... not even me? I love that I get to be the next Mad Hatter. The tea parties... The riddle games... The fun with talking bunnies... Oh well, I'll worry about that later. Raven finally has hope. And right now, she needs a Happily Ever After.