Nov 12, 2019 3:22 AM
Sadde in Wonderland
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Hatter takes over the explanation. "Our leaders are Queen Araminta, called the Queen of Diamonds or the queen without a court, and her consort, King Faramund. Queen Araminta is currently in hiding, but can be reached if necessary, and King Faramund is undercover in the Court of Hearts as a minor noble of little consequence."

A wry smile. "He has cultivated the appearance of an eccentric fashion sense which requires that he purchase a new hat every two weeks or so."

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"Smart. But if you already have a Queen and King then how's succession after Marcella's deposed in question?"

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"Because the Queen and King of Diamonds are remnants of a defeated royal line which no longer has any claim to Wonderland. The Red King's son, if he indeed lives, is the true heir - and the Red King himself would rule if he could be woken," the Hatter explains. 

"If the prince cannot be found and the King cannot be woken, the next in line would be the King's daughter, who was a baby when Marcella took power. Unfortunately, she also vanished. There are rumours that one of her nursemaids was instructed to take the child somewhere safe, but no-one knows where that might be."

He sighs. "So you see, it is all quite up in the air. I have no trouble believing that you might be able to take the throne, in the absence of anyone with a better claim."

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"I could be the long lost baby! That'd explain why I'm nothing like my father."

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"I...suppose it's possible that she might have been taken to the surface world?"

He frowns, and counts on his fingers. "No, it would be too long ago, I think. I'm not sure exactly how many years it's been, but certainly at least thirty. I hesitate to ask your age, but I feel reasonably confident in guessing you are under twenty?"

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"I am in fact sixteen," she nods. "Alas, I guess I'm not that many levels of Chosen One."

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"It has been long enough," Everless comments, "that you could possibly be her daughter. But how to test it..."

She shakes her head. "Let us return to more urgent matters. Hatter, you should contact our royals and make arrangements for Sadde to meet them. Meanwhile, I believe we should find somewhere for her to sleep before too much longer - and perhaps provide food as well."

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"That sounds useful, yeah. And then I'd like to know what I can actually, you know, help with. Power trips are fun but I don't have any skills applicable to a rebellion I don't think."

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"You provide a fresh perspective that may be more valuable than you know," Everless says.

"You seem to know certain pieces of the puzzle before they are explained to you, although you describe them strangely; perhaps your knowledge will be the key to defeating Marcella."

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"Pieces of the puzzle? Like what?"

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"You guessed at the existence of a prophecy, for one, and turned out to be right that it likely refers to you. I will grant that we do not yet have confirmation, but it does fit with what we know."

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"Ah. Well... it's mostly that this world seems to run on story logic. So I'm trying to follow story logic and figure out what the next interesting plot point will be before the authors make it obvious."

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"You see? This is information we natives do not possess." She sounds envious.

"Does story logic provide any hints for how an evil queen might be defeated?"

Hatter has quietly left the room, presumably to contact the leaders of the Resistance.

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She starts counting on fingers. "The Power of Love and Friendship's been falling out of style lately, but it's still pretty common. Greed and overconfidence are typically failures that bring villains down, pretty often in the form of a trusted subordinate who betrays them because they're too evil. Sometimes the Power of Love and Friendship is combined with that and a trusted subordinate betrays the evil leader after befriending one of the Good Guys and Seeing The Light. Hmmm... this is also a fantastical scenario, so perhaps she has a mystical weakness she protects at all costs, the source of her power or something like that, and it's guarded by riddles and mystical barriers only the Heroes can beat."

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"Hmm," is Everless' first response to this.

"We know the source of the Queen's power, at the least," she offers. "It is the stolen hearts of Wonderlanders which enable her and her underlings to perform magic. She makes sure to keep more for herself than she gives out to any one person, which means she carries at least eleven at any one time. However, there is no reason for all of them to be on display, and she may very well keep still more hidden beneath her clothing or in her hair."

She huffs in what might be amusement or frustration. "As to the possibility of turning one of her own against her...I believe it unlikely. The Hearts, the only ones who might stand a chance against her, are chosen and promoted for their loyalty, which is then further ensured when she removes their own hearts. Those, I would expect that she always keeps personally, and would certainly never return to their original bearers."

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"I'm still not totally clear on how that heart magic works and what exactly is entailed by 'taking someone's heart,' and I'll eventually want to write these things down with itemised lists of known strengths and weaknesses and other traits of everyone and resources and such."

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"Questions about the capabilities of the Resistance are best answered by Queen Araminta, and King Faramund is best placed to comment on the capabilities of the Hearts," Everless diagnoses.

"I can attempt to answer questions about heart magic, but my knowledge is limited by the fact that no-one has seen it done without having been a victim, and the heartless are invariably disinclined or unable to share information. However..."

She flaps about the room and starts moving hats around, uncovering a small writing-desk tucked in one corner. "One thing I can offer is writing materials. This is mine, and you are free to use anything from it." 

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"- you seriously have a writing desk."

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"...Yes? Look, the fact that I happen to be a different shape than most of the people you are no doubt accustomed to, does not make me any less of a person, or any less capable of wanting to do the things which people do."

This is clearly something of a practised rant. 

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"No that's not it, the Hatter asked me what a raven and a writing desk had in common and I said that I didn't think there was anything but I guess I was wrong!"

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Everless laughs, so loudly that Hatter comes rushing through from some other part of the house to see what's wrong.

"He asks everyone the same question," she explains once she's calm enough to get out a full sentence. "And he collects all the different answers to give to me. No-one has ever guessed correctly in the...is it ten years you have spent doing this?" she asks Hatter.

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"Twelve. And I do tend to get a lot of the same wrong answers," he says with a pout.

"Anyway, I've sent letters to both the King and the Queen. We'll hear back by tomorrow, hopefully. And I cleared out a room for you, Sadde."

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"Thank you, you're much too kind. And, Everless, I'm afraid most people don't guess ravens can write because they assume opposable thumbs are needed - how do you write?"

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"I am not always a raven," she explains. "This is merely my preferred form, since I enjoy the relative visual acuity and the ability to fly. It is also adequate for turning pages," she concedes.

"My other common form, which I will be happy to demonstrate to you if Hatter can provide a berry, is a raccoon, and quite capable of writing with a raven-feather quill."

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"Oh, that's cool. - wait, you can change shapes by eating fruit?"

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