Monday, March 11, 2013


I know, I haven't been on in ages and I'm so sorry for that, but life has been happening and I'm just trying to keep up and don't have time to search out the stories to do commentary on and all, much less do all the drawings for (particularly since I don't really have somewhere to set up my drawing materials, as my current 'desk' is a tv tray), but here's something I wrote to hopefully tide you over and let you know I'm not dead yet.

They really hadn't intended to become a tourist attraction.

It could all be drawn back to that one girl, of course...having fallen down a hole while running after someone like a simple-minded child many years her junior, hitting her head and coming up with wild stories she'd invented after meeting a few people while suffering a grievous head injury. For a while after she was graciously returned to her family (the Queen having escorted her there personally, with nary a thought to taking anyone's head in the one ever figured out where the girl got that bit from) her loving parents carefully tended to their clearly addled daughter, plying her with the best medicine they could. Considering the times, this generally consisted of a great deal of morphine and mercury, which decidedly didn't help the whole hallucinations and madness bit, but their intentions were well enough. She was taken to some of the best psychologists money could buy, but none of it seemed to help. Eventually one of the psychologists decided that there must be more to what the girl spoke of than people thought, and decided to investigate. When he found that the land the girl spoke of did exist...if not to her description, but it was at least there...well, that's when things decidedly changed for it's residents.

People from above began flocking in left and right, wanting to see the fantastical world from the girl's stories, and they intended to see it whether or not the residents wanted them there, or even were like what had been described. Many of the residents weren't bothered overmuch, being close enough to human in form and function* to be declared boring by tourists, who were here to see 'the real deal'. Poor Reginald had to put up with constantly being referred to as 'The Mad Hatter', despite not being mad at all*** , and only making hats as an occasional hobby, his main employment being as a professional grower and brewer of fine teas. He stoically handled it though, even throwing out the occasional "How is a raven like a writing desk?" to delighted tourists, as long as they bought some tea first.  He wouldn't complain about the increase in his tea business, but he did have several choice words concerning those particularly persisted girls...and to his horror, young men...who for some reason thought his supposed madness was the sexiest thing ever and threw themselves at him like wild dogs in heat. After one particular incident involving a group of girls wearing a rather disturbing amount of black, with their skin painted white as a corpse, he hired on a cousin of Ears**** to act as a bodyguard. Things went much more smoothly for him after the first time Legs***** kicked a tourist through the front door after said tourist attempted to 'glomp' Reginald, and tourists learned to respect the personal space of anyone who was protected by a rabbit the size of a large kangaroo.

Everyone had their fair share of problems....From being branded as mad, murderers or worst of all - attractive - by the tourists, or such complaints as cookies going missing because some idiot thought it would make them gigantic, the jabberwock population having to go into hiding because of all the would-be knights trying to slay them despite the large reptiles' peaceful natures, or the regrettable decline of attendance at the Queen's croquet competitions and picnics due to people fearing for the structural stability of their craniums, or even Absolom the Caterpillar constantly complaining about the hazy-eyed simpletons visiting him asking him for a hit. However, all of the denizens of the country could agree that none suffered so terribly as the Cheshires. The noise and nuisance of the tourists would have been bad enough for the felines, as it interrupted their twenty hours a day of beauty sleep constantly****** and the obnoxious ones that insisted they fade away into a grin, with no understanding of the true nature of a Cheshire. Not all of them fade away, and certainly not into a ghastly grin unless they are particularly malevolent and wish to mess with someone's head. Some break into puzzle pieces, others unwind into thread, some evaporate into mist, it really depends on the particular cat. Of all the sins visited upon the cats, however, none was so great as the audacity of the few who decided to try and keep them as pets.

The very nature of a Cheshire is freedom. It is what they live, breathe, and are made of. Freedom is so much a part of their essence that they could not even stand being restricted to one physical form, which is why they can change themselves, not just for camouflage purposes******* but so they are not so confined. To be confined to a stuffy little house, put in a collar and called "Kittywuggins" was an affront to not only their dignity, but the very fibre of their being. After people started attempting to capture them to keep as pets, the hospitals began getting decidedly more patients as the cats made their displeasure known. Of course, no one actually managed to keep a cat they attempted to confine, as the Cheshires were too clever and powerful for any mere mortal to keep ahold of. Some tricky salesmen tried selling collars or other trinkets they declared would confine the cats and make them unable to change their form, but they tended to vanish rather quickly in a disturbingly quiet fashion.

One of the worst affronts to the land, as the residents all agreed, was to the name itself. None of the tourists bothered to learn the real names of any geographical location, instead dubbing the entirety of it "Wonderland", and refusing to call it anything else even when corrected. Much like any other country being overtaken, the residents eventually gave up trying to keep things the way they were and settled to just making do with things being changed, except a small number of particularly stubborn individuals set in their ways like stone. A few even liked the change, as they were able to profit immensely from it, or learned of new things they came to enjoy. Absolom, despite his complaints about the more odd-smelling tourists who constantly visited him, never closed off his glade, and began some manner of trading with the tourists who visited him, considering the increase in unusual smells and colored smokes from his home, and his newfound propensity for giggling at nothing.

Eventually, of course, as with all new discoveries, the novelty of the land wore off eventually, and while a fair number of tourists still visited every year things quieted down for the most part. A few people bought homes, whether vacation homes or permanent residences, in the area, and some even became good friends with the locals and started up small businesses of their own. Reginald even joined up with a woman who had begun a business baking various sweetbreads and other goods, combining their businesses into a quaint teashop/bakery with novelty hats, an upstairs apartment set up as a small bed and breakfast inn. Naturally, a few of the tourists who saw the pair working together and heard of them combining their businesses tried to spin it into a romantic plot, which quickly unraveled when they actually visited and saw that the woman was old enough to be Reginald's great great grandmother's nanny.

Of course, age works far differently for the residents, even those who came from above to call it home. While most of the stories of magic that came about from an addled girl's ramblings were, of course, nonsense, the land does posses a magic of it's own. People who live there are often centuries old, millenia even, but not all that many look it. This isn't to say that nobody ages, everyone does. Just not the same way. Simply put, the ones who are old have been old for a very, very long time, and the ones who have been young have been so for just as long. The land seems to understand what age people are most comfortable at, what they're meant to be, and allows them to reach just that. If someone is most comfortable in the skin of a young adult, then they will stay that way. However, if one feels more at home in an aged body, whether a shaman or wise woman who likes the image, or someone who just feels more comfortable that way for whatever reason comes into their minds, then the magic will let them reach that age. No one really knows how old they will get when they are young in years, but the land knows their hearts before they do, and shapes them to it, even the people who weren't born there. Death still happens, of course, as life wouldn't exist without it, but it tends to be few, far between, and more from disease or accident than anything else. Birth is a rare and very celebrated event, as a land that supports life for so long cannot support too much life at once. There's only so much magic to go around, you know.

* They weren't really human, of true humans lived in the land, but the people at least looked similar save for odd hair or eye colors now and then. Anyone unfortunate enough to have pointed ears had to deal with many tourists insisting that they tell them what the trees are saying, as elves are supposed to know those things. Most at least attempted to explain that the vast majority of trees don't bother talking to anything more ambulatory than a mushroom, and those that do usually don't have much worth sharing unless one has a vested interest in the soil quality**, but a few eventually just started making things up just to get the tourists to leave them alone.

** Most farmers keep at least one elven farmhand around for this reason.

*** Well, there were a few instances in his past with mercury and questionable mushrooms that left a few frayed wires that spark every now and again, and he does have a rather regrettable habit of being distracted easily, particularly by shiny objects, but it's hardly something worth labeling him entirely for.

**** Ears is most commonly known to the tourists as The March Hare, and is one of the few people that Alice was even remotely right about, as he is rather unhinged. Reginald mostly only invites him for tea at all because Ears would get lonely otherwise. These parties usually d0 not consist of any other guests, as Reginald is one of the few able to deal with Ears's behavior and strong enough to keep the rabbit from hurting himself when his mood goes sour. Most attribute Ears's problems to his mother having consumed a great deal of campion (and possibly some foxglove, though she denies that) while pregnant.

***** It should be noted that lapin parents are notoriously uncreative with names, and tend to name their children after whatever feature is most noticeable on them at birth. Ears tends to be a very common name as a result. Many change their names after they reach adulthood, though some either keep them out of respect for their parents, or because they aren't very creative themselves. The ones who do not keep their original names tend to be named after plants.

****** The cats are very beautiful creatures by nature, and often attribute their looks to their generous sleep schedule.

******* Primarily only used when they wanted privacy or didn't want to deal with someone they didn't like, as there is nary a predator in the lands dumb enough to try and hunt one, and if one was so stupid they would quickly learn why it was a bad idea to try and harm a Cheshire.