Chapter Eighteen: Heart Queenï¿½s Court:
At sundown, Anna awoke on plushy green grass. She noticed swirling pink clouds in the sky as her hand felt around beneath her.
Where am I now? Anna froze when something sounded near her ear. Singing? She looked up to see Cards girls dancing towards her. Their song was intriguing.
Painting the roses red? Anna began to remember the rest of Aliceï¿½s story. She flagged down the Card girls.
ï¿½Excuse me!ï¿½ she shouted. ï¿½Excuse me! Excuse me!ï¿½ The Cards paused and looked toward her.
ï¿½Hellooo!ï¿½ they sang. Anna gave them a slightly confused wave.
ï¿½Hey,ï¿½ she said. ï¿½Can you tell me where I am?ï¿½
ï¿½The Queenï¿½s Court! The Queenï¿½s Court!ï¿½ the Cards sang. The words clicked in Annaï¿½s mind.
ï¿½Holy crap, I made it in,ï¿½ she muttered. ï¿½Uhï¿½ this is Heart Castle, yeah?ï¿½
ï¿½Yes! Yes!ï¿½ the Cards sang. Anna pondered this new situation.
ï¿½How do I get into the castle?ï¿½ she asked.
I made it! The Caterpillarï¿½s spell worked. Anna looked at herself. Iï¿½m back to normal too! She paused, consumed in her thoughts. But how do I get inside? The Cards giggled. She looked up at the Cards.
ï¿½Play with us!ï¿½ they chanted. ï¿½Play with us!ï¿½ Anna frowned at them. Another game? Seriously? She laughed nervously.
ï¿½What kind of game?ï¿½ she asked.
ï¿½Paint the roses!ï¿½ they exclaimed.
ï¿½Yes!ï¿½ Annaï¿½s face became grim. This wonï¿½t end well, will it?
ï¿½Is that the only way in?ï¿½ Anna asked.
ï¿½Yes!ï¿½ the Cards sang. Anna gritted her teeth.
ï¿½Right,ï¿½ she lied. ï¿½Sure, Iï¿½ll play.ï¿½
ï¿½Yay!ï¿½ Anna rose to her feet.
ï¿½Where do we start?ï¿½ she asked. The Cards giggled again.
ï¿½Come, come!ï¿½ they chanted. ï¿½Paint, paint!ï¿½ Anna put up her hands
ï¿½Alright!ï¿½ she exclaimed. ï¿½I hear you, chill out.ï¿½ The Two of Diamonds handed her a paintbrush.
ï¿½Thanks, I guess.ï¿½
ï¿½Red, red, red!ï¿½
ï¿½Yes,ï¿½ she said. The ladies rushed over to the white rose bushes. As she dipped her brush, Anna got to thinking: Maybe this could work in my favor. She remembered what happened next in the story; if I keep painting, the queen will come out here. Now who would that be, I wonder.
ï¿½Paint, paint, paint!ï¿½ the Cards sang. Soon, half of the roses were painted bright red. The whole time, Anna watched the entrance. Come on! Show yourself, bitch! I need to get home and you and this Bunny-tan will help me do so! Come out here! Her brushwork reflected her anticipation. Come on! Come on!
ï¿½Paint, paint, paint!ï¿½ the Cards sang. Then, all went quiet. Anna looked up to see them frozen in fear.
ï¿½What?ï¿½ she asked. ï¿½Why did you stop?ï¿½ The Card girls fled, screaming.
ï¿½Wait! Where are youï¿½?ï¿½ Approaching footsteps drew her mouth closed. A woman walked forward with her posse on leashes. Her pets wore black tube tops and matching leather skirts with their spiked collars. The leaderï¿½s black and red leather attire gave the impression of a dominatrix; it was pretty clear to the world. Anna narrowed her eyes as the leader looked around, agitated.
ï¿½Who the fuck ruined my roses?!ï¿½ she shouted. The card girls trembled as they hid in the brush. Anna studied the womanï¿½s face. Emikoï¿½s the queen, huh? With Hotaru and a girly Mike as the pets, how could I not see this coming? She cleared her throat and stepped forward.
ï¿½Excuse me, are you the queen of this castle?ï¿½ Anna asked. The woman in the black and red corset raised an eyebrow at her.
ï¿½Who dares to ask?ï¿½ she asked. The Cards watched and trembled with fear in their eyes, though Anna stood boldly.
ï¿½I did it,ï¿½ she confessed. ï¿½I painted your ugly roses red!ï¿½ The Card girls gasped.
ï¿½No! Donï¿½t do it!ï¿½ they pleaded in a whisper. The woman in black and red raised an eyebrow at her.
ï¿½Is that right?ï¿½ she asked.
ï¿½Yes!ï¿½ Anna declared. ï¿½Arrest me! I think roses are stupid anyway. They are meaningless!ï¿½ The rage-filled expression on the queenï¿½s face looked strangely beautiful.
ï¿½Off with her head!ï¿½ she screamed. The kitty girl guards came and seized Anna. As she was hauled away to the dungeon, the prisoner grinned to herself.
Iï¿½m in, she thought. That victory didnï¿½t last long as another realization sunk in: Now how do I find Bunny-tanï¿½s soul in this damn castle?