Nov 21, 2019 4:36 PM
Sadde in Wonderland
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"Ask, and I will answer those I can," Everless encourages him. 

"Araminta is a very effective leader, but does not seek out knowledge to the same extent that I do."

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"Okay, so, do you know much about Marcella's past, and specifically anything that could count as a tragic backstory?"

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"Hmm..."

She gives the question some serious thought.

"Unfortunately, very little is known about Marcella's past before she defeated the Red King and took the throne. Most of those who knew her beforehand are now dead, either from old age or various mildly suspicious causes. You may be correct in thinking that there is something which she is trying to hide."

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He nods. "Let's hope that's a plot point, then. For that matter I think the White Rabbit is one, as is the whole chess and card game theme going on, but I'll explore that later. Creation myths, and ancient history, what do you have on those?"

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"They may as well be the same thing, if one goes far enough back," Everless grumbles. 

"History becomes less certain once you get more than three hundred years into the past, since the war between the Red and White armies destroyed so many records, and Marcella destroyed or confiscated the rest on her ascension. As a result, much of Wonderland's ancient history is speculative, and would be better described as legend or myth. The origins of Wonderland itself have become almost completely lost to the mists of time, and there are multiple competing versions of the story."

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"I'm all ears, if none of them is true I'll at least know more."

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"One version," she begins, "says that Wonderland has existed forever, and that the struggle between Red and White has been eternal. I do not find this either believable or interesting, but it is popularly believed, especially by those who would see the Red King return. Such people also believe that the White monarchy will re-emerge to continue the fight, which I find far less likely than that our efforts will succeed."

She pauses, to consider which story should come next.

"The next most popular account of Wonderland's origins is the one which claims that all of this is someone's dream, and that if they ever wake up, Wonderland will cease to exist except in their memory."

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"That sounds terrifying. And doesn't let me make many new predictions unless I know who is dreaming. First one's more promising as a genre marker."

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"It is absolutely no use at all unless one knows the identity of the dreamer," Everless agrees.

"The only purpose it serves is to push the question of origin one step further away, while the first does away with it entirely."

She continues, "Another in the same vein proposes that time is circular, and that eventually it will loop back around to the beginning; our lack of history is because we cannot be allowed to remember previous iterations. This is not only unlikely but impractical considering the existence of a surface world with, presumably, many more than three hundred years of history since you mentioned this as strange."

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"Well, it can't really be circular unless I don't count as part of your history. But yes that's strange - my species is thousands of years old, my planet millions, my universe billions."

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"I did warn you, did I not, that these were only stories?" Everless reminds him.

"If I am honest, I do not expect any of them to be correct."

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"It's just - three hundred years, and a population of two thousand - how often do you reproduce?"

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"Personally? Never. In fact, I do not believe anyone in this house has done so," Everless says stiffly.

"Also, I am not certain that the three-hundred-year mark is intended to be the beginning of the cycle, or that we are supposed to have started with a population of any particular magnitude. Shall we move on to a marginally less ludicrous theory?"

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"Do let's, although do understand that from the perspective of a magicless world neither of these theories is meaningfully more ludicrous than the other."

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"This next one is, actually, vaguely coherent, although it does still assume the existence of beings outside of Wonderland," Everless says.

"There is a belief - falling out of fashion, these days - that the world was created by two gods, the Black and the White, each of whom created exactly half of Wonderland. Because of this, Wonderland is more perfect than other places, which may have been created by one god rather than the other, and did not benefit from their collaboration."

The air-quotes around 'perfect' are practically audible. 

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"I think assuming the existence of beings outside of Wonderland seems reasonable, given. Me."

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"That is true, but bear in mind that for the majority of Wonderland's history there was no evidence of any such outside world," Everless reminds him.

"Even once discovered, it was only known to the elite, and not to those who came up with such stories. Also, given that you are not accustomed to magic, I would be surprised to find that your world contains anything with the kind of power attributed to the gods of the stories."

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"Well, given the state of historical records it's also not unthinkable that you might have had more evidence of outside worlds that's been lost to time except in the form of stories, and two is an unprincipled number for the quantity of worlds."

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She blinks.

"That is a good point. I never thought of it in those terms before, but I suppose if one starts with the premise that there are multiple worlds, there is no particular reason that there should be exactly two."

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Hatter, who has been busily clearing up breakfast around Sadde and Everless, hums thoughtfully.

"I wonder if there might be some way of contacting these other worlds. Perhaps they could help us defeat Marcella."

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"What sorts of ways to Earth are there, who knows of them, and what are they used for?"

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"Well, there is the way you came in," Everless begins.

"It is known as the Rabbit's Hole, since it is primarily used by the White Rabbit. She uses it to gather rare materials and resources on Marcella's behalf."

She continues, "Passage in and out is not consistently controlled, but the only way up is by flying or floating, and its location is even less consistent than most of Wonderland. Only a few know how to find it, and most of them work for Marcella."

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"And were they discovered only very recently, then? And how does the Rabbit float up there?"

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"...Oh, I suppose you wouldn't have bubble cakes," Everless realises. 

"And yes, the Rabbit Hole in particular was only discovered last year," she continues. "The one in use before that was a little easier to find, but only just big enough for a rabbit."

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"How are they discovered? Do people just end up - floating up to them?"

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