Jul 21, 2019 7:40 PM
Sadde in Wonderland
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"Something falls through, usually," Hatter contributes in between washing dishes. 

"For this one, I think it was a badger?" 

Everless nods. 

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"And this started happening only recently?"

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"Actually, the first one was discovered back in the days of the Red King," Everless corrects. 

"But they close up, after a while. That one was closed within a month of Marcella's coronation, and hasn't returned since. It was one of the few at ground level, as well. I don't believe there are any of that type open at present." 

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"Is there a pattern to when they appear, and to whom?"

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"No," Everless says instantly.

"I attempted to determine the existence of such a pattern around seven years ago, and concluded that the discovery of a path between the worlds is impossible to predict before its first appearance. Once it has been discovered, its movements can be tracked and turned into an algorithm for predicting its future location, but there is no such consistency between different paths."

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"Not even a pattern of the plotty type? Like, someone needed rescue, or someone was wandering the woods and it'd be interesting, or it would make the grand arc of Wonderland become more evocatively beautiful or something?"

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"...Hmm. I had not thought to look for that sort of pattern, no," she admits. 

"Those would be more difficult to determine, anyway, since they are so subjective."

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"Yeah, kinda," she agrees. "But - were any relevant to interesting things that happened? Like, if one was used to bring my - mum - upside then that's plot relevant, did that one appear shortly before that? Or do any appear right after or before anything historically important happens, or suspiciously conveniently..."

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"It might be considered suspiciously convenient - or inconvenient, depending on one's perspective - how quickly that first one vanished after the coup," Hatter contributes.  

"I can't think of any other examples, though."

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"Shame." She shrugs. "Okay and there's the metaphors, I expect you don't have playing cards and chess?"

...Chess. Huh.

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"Can't say I've heard of either of those as concepts."

Everless shakes her head as well. 

"Something from your world?" Hatter asks. 

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"Yyyeah. Okay so playing cards..." He explains the concept, as well as chess, in some detail.

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Everless is fascinated. 

"Yes, I can see how this would be relevant," she says after a while. "The war between Red and White was a chess game, and Marcella turned it into a card game." 

She nudges Hatter. "Go find a checkers board, or a map of Wonderland, so Sadde can teach us chess properly."

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"As you command, oh noblest of birds." 

He tips his everpresent hat to her, and heads off into the warren of his house to find the requested materials. 

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"You can tell me how well the concepts map after I teach you it." Which he does once materials are provided.

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They have to improvise game pieces, since there isn't an actual chess set, but checkers work quite well, especially once Hatter thinks to mark them with the names of the pieces. 

Everless turns out to be a slow but methodical player, and has soon mastered the ability to think several moves ahead, although she frequently needs to stop and recalculate her strategy when Sadde makes an unexpected move. 

"I think I can see how the two metaphors have mixed," she remarks between games. "The Queen is clearly the most powerful piece, here, whereas I think you said the King is the highest, in cards?"

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"Yeah. There might be some games where the Queen is higher but I don't know of any, and I know one where the order actually goes Queen, Jack, King."

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"And yet, in both the Red Court and the Diamond Court, the Queens rule," she muses, and leans over the board to move a pawn. 

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"As entertaining as this is," Hatter says after a while, "I think we may have extracted all of the potential strategic value from this game now?"

Everless huffs, but agrees. 

"Now, Sadde, I think you still had a few questions left unanswered?" 

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"Actually I think that was all the specific questions I had. I'm getting a feel for this place's logic but nothing more concrete. My vague feelings point in the direction of straightening up our metaphors being something that could work to our advantage."

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"Straightening up how?" Everless wants to know.

"In which direction?"

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"I mean - there's the chess and the cards metaphors and I don't know which one is right - there didn't used to be suits, before? Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades? That was all Marcella?"

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"No, the Diamond family predates the coup," Hatter says. "I think they're distantly related to the White monarchs, actually." He casts a glance through the closed door in the direction of Queen Araminta.

"But Heart is Marcella's line, and Clubs and Spades are just the two main divisions of her servants - soldiers and domestics."

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"Hmm. That's unbalanced, that she has three suits and we only have one. And if I were to guess how the metaphor would play out, we'd get Spades - old story about the domestic servant who betrays their evil master. But still, it sounds - weird that we have chess and cards all over the place and I don't know in what direction things should go but it feels like it's something other than what we have right now."

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Everless nods.

"The question, then, is whether we play Marcella at her own game and shift the metaphor in the direction of being card-based, or try to restore the old chess pattern." 

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