|Scene Title||Natural Woman|
|Synopsis||Hikaru once more finds himself separated from Tybalt and he encounters the White Queen. A startling revelation and change occurs.|
When we last saw our intrepid heroes, they were walking down the left path. Hikaru's mind seems to wander for a few seconds but shortly there after he returns back to the path and Tybalt is there with him…
Hikaru glances back to Tybalt curiously, lifting his head slightly. He looks slightly out of sorts. Something is wrong. "Oh, there you are. Where did you go?" he asks, looking rather… confused. "Where'd all the mushrooms go? Did you see the caterpillar?" he asks. Yes, something is definitely bothering Inari's child. What mushrooms? What caterpillar? And yet, he seems rather convinced of it all.
Tybalt thumbs over his shoulder from the place he just came from. "Been keepin' up with you." He offers in his typical twang as he looks around curiously. He sucks in a breath through his teeth making a sort of twwt sound from his mouth like someone trying to get clean something from between his teeth. A simple noise to fill the silence of the few moments he takes to register what is going on. "Uhm…Hikaru man?" He looks back in sort of a way to try and see into Hikaru's eyes, checking for dilated pupils and such things that go with hallucinations….yes…they are in wonderland and Ty thinks Hika's acting weird. "I ain't seen a Caterpillar or any Mushrooms….We were following the fox, remember?"
"But I'm fine," says Hikaru, pouting, but permitting Tybalt to check him. "I really DID see a caterpillar, and giant mushrooms, and the caterpillar asked who I was, and then it tried to kill me with smoke from its hookah, and I couldn't escape and had to kill it. Then the fox showed up and… told me strange things," he mentions. "Look! I'll prove it," he says, opening his pocket and sorting through the cards he's collected already. Surely in there somewhere, he's got a card with a caterpillar on it. Right? It's got to be there somewhere. He didn't make the whole thing up. Did he?
Hikaru does in fact have a new card, and a few more cards in fact. The path to the left, has taken on a much more friendly look, or as much of one this place can have. It is what seems like a few hours of talking/walking before the pair comes to a fork in the road. There is a path that leads into what looks like a cave in the ground and a path that continues onward into the forest.
Hikaru looks around a bit nervously. "Tybalt?" he calls. And then again, with a bit more feeling: "Tybalt? A… are you there?" — another hallucination? Or is he really gone this time? The child of Inari looks altogether nervous. But he remembers the words of the Cheshire Fox. At the fork in the road, he needs to go the way he feels he shouldn't go. He eyes the cavern with apprehension. The cavern is not where a child of Inari should be. Caves are dark and scary, and not forests or cities where foxes should be spending their time. Also, bears live in caves. So… without much deliberation, he sets off along the path which seems to lead to the cave.
Oh it's a dark cave, dark and scary. There is the distant sounds of dripping water and the stench of decay.. There is the soft sound of 'ba-ing'.. Echoing from somewhere within the cave. As you continue down the path you come to a door. There is firelight coming from below the door and the sound of 'ba-ing' softly.
"Baa-ing?" — like sheep? Or something else? This is an unexpected turn of events. Hikaru's vision is all right, but the dim light of the cave allows him to find his way. He places his hand upon the wall and takes light, careful steps to ensure he's not about to step into a pit, or something of that nature as he makes his way to the door. Maybe there's a keyhole for him to peer through. Alice did that, didn't she? Peered through the keyhole into the garden? It would at least give him an idea of what to expect before he goes crashing in.
It's sheep, as in ewe and ram. As he looks at the keyhole, the door swings open and inside is a nice little cozy living room with a sheep knitting something from her spindle. There is a bit of a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling which sort of overwhelms the 'icky' feeling. If you've seen Coraline, then you know the type of 'feeling' the other mom gives her. The sheep looks up to Hikaru. "Come in, dear.. Come come.."
Hikaru recoils as the door swings open as he's peering through it. That was shocking. But at least it's just a sheep, or at least it appears to be. He looks rather curiously at the knitting sheep. "Are you sure I won't be imposing?" asks the young man. It's a very Japanese behavior to not want to impose upon others. But something about the sheep gives him a bit of pause. He has read the books. He does remember the sequence of events.
"Not at all, dea—eary.." The word is elongated. "The Come sit by the fire and tell me your tale.." The sheep switches her needles to one 'hand' then lifts a cup of tea to drink. "I have tea or water if you prefer.."
"Thank you," Hikaru says respectfully, bowing at the waist. "Some tea would be lovely. Though I'm a bit concerned about all of this," he admits, looking over the fireplace with interest. "Every other thing I've encountered, save for the fox, has tried to kill me in horrible ways. It would be nice to go somewhere without having someone try to murder me for once," he mentions, chewing upon his thumb briefly. "Which tale would you like me to tell you? I have so many of them, I rarely know which one people want to hear. And I've really got to find some sheets of gold, it seems."
As Hikaru passes through the door something happens, he isn't quite aware of what exactly happened, but it did. To him his voice sounds the same, any reflections he sees what he would normally expect to see. However, to everyone else… He has permanently transformed into something else.. something not quite human and defiantly not male.
Now, that was an odd feeling. Hikaru used to have accidents in the days when he was first learning to shapechange where he'd change without knowing it, but he hasn't had an incident like that in years. And yet, something strange has happened now. "W-what was that?" he asks, looking around. Well, he sounds normal. "Did something just happen?" — he sounds fairly normal to himself, but the odd feeling is what tipped him off. He looks down at himself in sudden curiosity. Is this another Wonderland trap, he wonders, holding up his hands.
The sheep looks at Hikaru and then offers a slight shrug, "I see what I have seen since I first met you. A beautiful young woman." The sheep goes back to knitting. "What brings you to Wonderland, Alice, dear.." Wait, she knows your name… She continues to knit a beautiful piece of cloth.
"But I'm… I'm not a woman," he points out to the sheep. "I don't know why everyone keeps saying that I am. I mean, I checked on the way over here, just to make sure!" he says, matter of factly. "Everything was still there! Still is now, too!" he points out with conviction. But he glances toward the fire once more, chewing his lip. "Though it seems very strange that an entire realm can mistake men for women. Is it really important that this world have an Alice? And… what is it you're knitting there?"
"Good question, Alice.." The sheep says as she reaches up to her forehead and starts to unzip her skin. Revealed within is the White Queen, all prim and proper. "Alice.." She says rather matter-of-factly, "Is Alice. Alice is not so much a who as a what…" Her voice slightly waivers a bit. "To the world of Wonderland Alice is the beginning and the end. She is that from which all life springs." She rolls her wrist around and stands up. She walks to the mantle, with her back still toward you and continues. "I do not know how to explain it. Alice is Alice.. She is the symbol of hope, the harbinger of destruction." She says. "She is important to our very well-being." The White queen sighs softly, "And since Black Alice has come to power… Well you see the results, do you not?" She walks back to her seat and sits, "I am knitting a net. A net to catch some thoughts and dreams…" She pauses and her eyes go solid white for a moment. "She's coming…"
Hikaru rolls into a standing position, preparing himself for some terrible thing to arrive. "Who's coming?" he asks, moving to try to protect the White Queen. He remembered that the Sheep and the White Queen were the same in the story, but never the White Queen getting a seer's vision, or weaving something like the threads of fate. "Is it her? Black Alice? We've got to get you out of here. Isn't there a way to help you escape from here?" he asks, scanning the room quickly for routes he could use.
"As long as I stay a sheep, Black Alice can not harm me." With that she zips herself back up. "I am below her perception." The sheep looks at Hikaru once more, "Become what you know you should. You have to believe in Wonderland, for it believes in you.." The White Queen errr Sheep offers a 'ba' and two cards appear spinning on their axis before Hikaru, "You will need these." The cards are the White Queen and The Sheep. She points a knitting needle to a floor length mirror, "Step through.. Quickly Alice.. Before She…"
Outside the door Hikaru can hear a very familiar phrase from a very demonic skin crawling, blood-curdling, soul ripping voice.. "OFF WITH HER HEAD!"
Black Alice can't hurt the sheep. But what if the Queen of Hearts can? He slips the cards in his pocket, looking over his shoulder with wide eyes. He runs to the mirror, looking back at the sheep now. It's a bit frantic. "Won't she come for you? The Queen of Hearts? You should escape with me," he urges. "Black Alice may not be able to touch you, but I don't want the Queen of Hearts to get you either!" he says insistently. Looking back and forth between the looking glass and the door. Heart is pounding. He shouldn't leave her… should he?
The sheep holds a knitting needle out to Hikaru and then looks to the mirror, "Go. I shall stop her as long as I can… Ba——a." The sheep has an air of Authority that almost Compels Hikaru to start walking, even against his own will. "If you set this right, Alice, none of this will matter.. The beginning and the end, remember…" About that time the door busts open and a Sanguine horror in the shape of a "woman" stands there, thick blood ichor oozing down her frame. "OFF WITH HER HEAD!" She screams at the top of her lungs, the words have a physical impact, like being pushed hard, hard enough to knock back a foot or two. There is no way to avoid it.
Behind the 'Queen' is a deck of card soldiers All of which look like the are coated in blood and seem to be human-esque forms with their skin flayed back to make them into the shapes of 'cards'. "Yes ma'am.." They all say in unison as they start to pile in. The Sheep looks down at the needle and Hikaru can feel something, a lot like legend, but something more… Something more tangible, like meta-essence, something that causes a slight intoxication… With that the needle grows into a long white sword with a ribbon trailing behind it. "Go Alice.. I can hold her for only a few moments."
The sheep shifts into her Queenly form and intones, "Powers of Light. Spirits of old. I, Aloria, summon forth the spirits of the Pawn, The Rook, The Bishop, The Castle and the Knight.. Come forth and aid me in my quest.." She turns back and looks at Hikaru, "Run fool…" She turns to look at the Queen of Hearts, "You shall go no further today, Halandra… No further.."
Hikaru recoils at the sight of the blood creature, but is in awe of the appearance of the White Queen. He wants to help the White Queen, but he trusts her judgment, and understands what she's doing to allow him to escape. He nods in understanding. It's one of those nods of resolve that is so frequently seen in Japanese media. Turning about suddenly, he plunges through the mirror as fast as he can. Made of glass? Then it's going to hurt, given the force with which he propels himself through!
As Hikaru dives through the glass he catches a glimpse of the White Queen striking the Queen of Hearts and then…. It takes a moment to actually gather what is seen, but the White Queen just sort of Explodes into a fine red mist and is absorbed by the Queen of Hearts. The needle handed to Hikaru starts to tingle and pull. A sense of sadness can be felt, upon looking in the mirror the white blade lay broken in bits on the floor where the queen held it.
That happens in the span of a heart beat, suddenly the queen of Hearts is through the mirror and reaching toward Alice.. "OFF WITH HER HEAD.." The force of the words cause the ground to cave in around Hikaru. "OFF WITH HER HEAD!" The woman-creature pries her way through the mirror. Without warning the needle surges with power and it to becomes a white blade with a ribbon. Hikaru will notice between the hilt and the ribbon is a White Queen Chess Piece.
"NO!" shouts Hikaru in a gasped, furious tone. She held off the Red Queen long enough to allow him to escape. He only met her for a few moments, but words don't accurately describe what he's feeling right now. Sadness, maybe. Respect for the sacrifice to keep him alive. Rising fury at the audacity of the Queen of Hearts. The first person who doesn't try to murder him here, and she gets killed for helping him. He wraps both of his hands around the hilt of the newly formed sword and struggles to stand up, placing his feet firmly upon the ground. He's starting to feel it, a sense of belonging to this world, a compassion and a sympathy for their plight. He brushes his fingers over the white chess piece and then swings the sword with all the strength he can muster at the grasping arm!
The blade of the sword glows a brilliant hue of white energy and it lashes out.. There is something pulled from deep within Hikaru that fuels the sword something… Something almost like a connection to the world around him. As he swings the sword he catches his reflection in the blade for a split second, and… its not his face looking back. The blade's reflection is gone and energy is unleashed toward the Queen of Hearts. She screams strong enough to cause Hikaru to fly backwards and his clothing and skin to rip off him. When he finally hits the ground he has the appearance of a Miko, and is.. he is no longer a he. He is a she. His voice is light and has the 'odd' authority of a Queen.
The Queen of Hearts is struck by the energy of the blade and suddenly falls to the ground, screaming in agony. As she does many 'ghost' faces rise from the ichor and float off to no where. The queen's own face stops to look at Hikaru, "Use my blade well Alice.. It will serve you well.. As long as you believe in yourself and in your place." With that the queen flickers. "Continue on the path.. Continue straight, do not step off the path.. You will find the Gryphon… You will find yourself facing off with your darkness sooner than later. Steel yourself." As she fades away a card appears in her place.. The Queen of Hearts.
Hikaru feels altogether strange sitting upon the ground in her new body. New. There are a few times when Hikaru has needed to shift his flesh into a female body in the past, or has done so accidentally, or for a humorous reason. But this is something altogether different than anything she's experienced before. Her skin is breathing like a body freshly emerging from a hot spring. Her ears flick at strange new sounds, her senses feel magnified, and… what's this? She looks behind her, turning around as if to try to catch something that's eluding her. Her tail is finally showing up? This isn't just a mere transfiguration of the mortal flesh, though the flesh has certainly transformed into something extremely different. The changes permeate all the way through her soul. Perhaps it's only a mental defense that prevents Hikaru from reacting in fear or shock at the new body. But somehow, in some way, buried deep within the recesses of her soul, Hikaru -always- knew, even if the mortal mind wasn't capable of understanding. Maybe it just takes a shock to the system to come to make one realize. And she smiles.
But now she knows what she must do. She's only part of the way there. Black Alice must fall if all of this is to be concluded. She crouches to pick up the card, tucks the blade into her obi, and races off straight down the path.
A Hikaru runs the sword reverts to a knitting needle form and sort of just feels right like this. The Cheshire fox appears floating in the air next to her, seeming to run. "I see you met the White Queen.." The fox says with an eerie smile, "I figured you would listen to my words." He chuckles softly as he runs with Hikaru. "On ward and forward.." The fox comments and then he vanishes. "Good luck, Daughter…"
Hikaru's eyes widen. The fox was Inari-sama all along. A few tears well in the corners of her eyes. She had been talking to her parent the whole time and never even realized it. There's a twinge of loss now eating away at her emotional state. If she had known, she would have spent more time talking to the fox. But maybe he'll be there at the conclusion of all of this. She has a duty to perform. "Onward and forward," she echoes, redoubling her efforts and her resolve to make Inari proud.
To be continued! A raw log has been retained for verification of any rolls and/or confusion. Loot item found: White Queen's Sword (1).