Alisse in Underland
The Scarlet Queen
"Where is she?" Queen Minarvala's angry shrieks echoed through the throne room. Her lead tracker, Jamaleon, cowered under her burning gaze. Her blood-colored irises only added to the fear and respect she already dominated from her people.
"We don't know, Majesty. She's simply…vanished." He dared to speak. She halted in her pacing, spun around, and stared at him with fiery eyes. Almost instantly, Jamaleon shrunk back, recoiling from her hateful, wild stare.
"How could she possibly have 'simply vanished'?" She advanced upon Jamaleon, towering over him at six foot six. She bared her clenched teeth, showing her glittering white fangs. Jamaleon, his own diamond-like fangs poking out over his bottom lip, let out a soft whimper.
"We're trying our best to find her. I shouldn't be that hard. She's the only non-vampire left in the Under Kingdom," he tried. She made no immediate response, simply scowled, turning her face from beautiful to ugly in an split-second change.
"What if she's gone into that other place? How will you find her THEN?" she demanded. For the first time, Jamaleon drew a blank.
"I-I'm unsure of your meaning, my Queen?" She frowned.
"Where is Hyperion?" she called out. The leader of the Order of the White Rabbit, Hyperion, stepped forward, removing his snow white hood. Underneath was a broad-shouldered, dark-haired, fair-skinned man. He was attractive, except for the cruelty in his dark red eyes and the jagged scar, whiter than his dead-looking skin, which ran from his hairline to chin. He smiled coldly as he executed a graceful bow.
"Yes, Majesty?" She stared at him for a few moments, pondering her next words carefully, before answering. She must be careful with her orders for Hyperion. He was dangerous, and took the meanings of words very loosely. Unless she gave him extremely specific orders, he would take her words as loosely as he possibly could.
"Go with Jamaleon. Assist him in retrieving Alisse. I want her brought here. I don't care if she's dead. But not totally mangled. Hyperion. Be careful. You will be severely punished if you do not heed my warning." Her voice was ice. He nodded once. Straightening up, he stared at Jamaleon, and flashed his ice cold smile, showing pure white fangs that, despite Jamaleon being a vampire himself, struck fear into his very soul.
"Torrenius! Torrenius!" The door to Torrenius Madrigal's private office slammed open, and in came Luscilious Hayre. Torrenius removed his feet from the desk and sat up straight with a sigh.
"What is it, Hayre?" Luscilious stood in front of Torrenius' desk and, clasping a hand to his heart, proceeded to attempt to catch his breath.
"Torrenius… the queen is… resorting to the Rabbit. … She is… sending Hyperion… to assist Jamaleon." The room fell silent except for Luscilious' rasping breaths. Torrenius stared at his hands folded on his desk, deep in thought.
"I suppose we must send word to Alisse, then. She has no choice, but to return to Underland, and face Hyperion, the White Rabbit, and the Queen." Luscilious nodded silently, still attempting to catch his breath.
"Good lord, Luscilious, you didn't run all the way from the palace, did you?" Sheepish, Luscilious nodded. Torrenius sighed. Standing, he turned to his wine cabinet and poured Luscilious a crystal goblet of rich, dark, bloodwine. Luscilious took it gratefully. Then Torrenius sat back down behind his desk. Luscilious glanced around his goblet, watching him begin to rummage through the drawers of his desk.
"Where is that blasted contraption?" he grumbled to himself. Finally he was successful, and came up with a thin rectangular object. He fiddled with it until its darkened screen began flickering to life. It lit up, revealing the face of Alisse. She smiled at Torrenius, showing her own human teeth. Her long straight black hair gleamed unnaturally.
"Oh, Lady, when I tell of my news, you will have no more reason for smiling as you do." Her smile faded almost instantly, and her pale blue eyes darkened substantially.
"What's the matter, Torrenius?"
"Minarvala is sending Hyperion after you. I'm afraid for your life, my lady. You must return to Underland with Chester."
"Shall I prepare things for your return?" Alisse was silent for several agonizing moments. Then she grimaced.
"I suppose so, Torrenius. I don't really have much of a choice, do I? We'll be there by this evening at the latest. Goodbye Torrenius." The screen went dark. Torrenius looked up at Luscilious. Luscilious looked back at Torrenius.
"Well, Hayre. You heard her. Get going!" Luscilious scrambled to his feet and hurried away, letting the office door slam shut behind him with a bang.
"Chess! Chess, wake up!" Alisse whacked Chester Kaatt over the head with her staff. Chess wailed with pain, sitting bolt upright on the couch. He opened his eyes and glowered at Alisse. His dark red irises sparkled at her with the late afternoon light. She smiled innocently.
"That hurt, Alisse." His voice was a low growl. She shrugged.
"It was supposed to, Chess." She rolled her eyes. He heaved a sigh and rose to his feet, stretching.
"What is it, Alisse?" he asked, yawning. She frowned, pursing her lips.
"We have to go back. She's sending Hyperion to find me and bring me to her, possibly dead." He seemed to wake up more at the news from Torrenius.
"Oh. Okay." He pondered this, reaching up and picking at the fang that constantly poked out over his lower lip. Alisse frowned, and smacked his hand away from his mouth.
"You know you're not supposed to pick at your fang," she said when he frowned at her. He sighed again.
"I know, I know. I can't help it." He gave her an open-mouthed grin, showing his other, shorter fang.
"You have to try. I know it bothers you, but it's sharp enough already," she chastised, picking at the small dark place on her lower lip where his fang had repeatedly pierced it. He laughed, and swatter her hand away from her lip.
"Now you stop picking." She frowned, and stuck her tongue out at him. He grinned, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"Come on, vampire hunter. We should pack." He dragged her toward her bedroom.
The thought of a return to Underland gave Alisse nightmares. Whether she admitted it or not, she was still a child. Most of her nightmares, consisted of standing in her childhood home again, watching the Order take her parents away to Court. That image had haunted her dreams since she was a little girl. Those dreams were awful, and she usually woke up unhappy, crying or even screaming with the horror it caused her psyche. The memories that day were so vivid that even now, four years later, it still felt like it had happened yesterday.
"Alisse?" She blinked. Chess' hand was on her shoulder.
"Are you okay, Al?" She looked up at him blankly. He gave her a concerned look. She blinked, and nodded.
"I'm fine." He frowned.
"Are you sure? You look like you did when you first came to live with me." Another rush of memories.
Chess was seven, when Alisse and her family moved in next door to him and his parents. She was just three years old. When Chess turned nineteen, he moved out of his parents' home and into his own apartment. Alisse's parents died two years after that, when she was seventeen, and she immediately went to Chess. He took her in, and helped her get started on her own.
Eventually she was ready to leave. She slapped the butt of her staff against the floor of her apartment. A whirring noise came from inside the staff, and it vibrated in her hand. It began folding up like a telescope. Eventually it was reduced to the size and shape of a small tube. She stuck it into the pocket of her jeans.
Chess was doing pretty much the same thing with his large wooden crossbow. A silver button on the handle caused the crossbow to fold up into a small object somewhat resembling a garage-door opener.
"Alisse, do you have all your stuff?" She gave Chess a questioning glance.
"What stuff will I need in Underland? Everything I have here will look out of place there." She brushed her black bangs from her eyes and looked up at Chess. He shrugged.
Torrenius walked down the hall to the room where they kept the portal out of Underland. He could hear Luscilious rustling around inside. He could also hear a faint humming sound, which meant that at least the portal was operational. He opened the door and stepped into the room. It wasn't very well lit, but there was sufficient light to operate the portal by. Torrenius stepped up to the large, gilt-framed mirror and stroked the frame.
"Is it ready for their return, Hayre?" Luscilious nodded absently. Torrenius sighed gravely.
"It's been such a long time since I've left the Under Kingdom. I wonder what it's like now. I wonder how much it's changed," he mused, as he ran his finger along the carved frame of the mirror. The prospect of going to the human world was tempting. Torrenius had not left Underland in over two hundred years. He adjusted his coat and flattened down the sides.
"How much longer Hayre?"
"Oh, maybe five minutes, maybe ten." He shrugged. Torrenius sighed again.
Eventually, the portal began to hum louder. The frame of the mirror began to glow. Then the mirror rippled like moving water. Torrenius, instead of his own reflection standing in the mirror, saw Alisse standing in it instead, with Chess behind her looking over her shoulder. She waved at Torrenius. With another ripple, she stepped through the portal and into the small, dimly lit room. Another ripple passed over the mirror, and Chess was through too.
"Hey, man. Where are Darren and Duane? I thought they'd be here to greet us." Chess clapped Torrenius on the shoulder and slipped past Alisse, opening the door for her. She smiled at him, in a way that almost killed Torrenius to see. Then she turned to Torrenius with a very different smile, and hugged him.
"It's good to see you in person again, Torrenius. I've missed you." Torrenius had always been like an older brother to Alisse. At least, she felt that way. Torrenius felt quite different. He knew how she felt though, and he was rather resigned to playing second fiddle to Chess, as usual. But he'd always had hope.
"I've missed you too, my dear. It's been far too long." She smiled.
"Hopefully it won't be nearly as long next time." She pulled away from Torrenius and left the room, Chess at her heels.
"Darren and Duane are in their apartment!" Hayre called after them.
"Thanks!" Chess' voice was very faint, meaning they were a long way from the portal room already.