Chapter 4:

The Right Ingredients


“What do you mean, I can’t go back home?”Bookmark here

She looked away as she replied.Bookmark here

“...Allen—”Bookmark here

I quickly grabbed her shoulders in a tight grip. The reality of her words started to hit me, and I was afraid she’d leave me here to die in this neverending field of flowers and mushrooms.Bookmark here

“Why can’t I go back!? I’m not the one you wanted! As cool as it would be to become some random magical place’s hero, I have no interest in this one! There’s nothing here!”Bookmark here

“I, ah, th-that’s—”Bookmark here

I shook her shoulders and increased the strength of my grip on her, digging my fingers into the fabric of her clothes. Her nervous hesitation was driving me insane.Bookmark here

“That’s what! What is it! SAY SOMETHING ALREA—!!Bookmark here

Before I could finish my sentence, I was sent flying back by an incredible force.Bookmark here

I skidded through the flowers and my chest was in incredible pain. Petals and dirt flew all around me, and as I coughed, I realized I was quite a few feet of distance away from Zuria now.Bookmark here

She was holding what I thought was a very shiny yoyo at first, but as I groaned myself back into a sitting position, I saw that it actually was a pocket watch.Bookmark here

It had a bright white glow all around itself and its chain, and from Zuria’s position, it looked as if she had just used it to somehow hit me with it.Bookmark here

The glow disappeared almost as quickly as it came, and she let out a tiny gasp. Putting the watch back in the pocket of her black skirt she quickly made her way to me.Bookmark here

“Oh, gosh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to hurt you, it was a reflex…”Bookmark here

“............What...What the hell was that!?Bookmark here

She offered her hand to help me back to my feet but I slapped it away and got up on my own. Bookmark here

If anything, she seemed genuinely apologetic.Bookmark here

“That...was my Spade weapon, Posthaste.”Bookmark here

“...Spade weapon?”Bookmark here

She nodded.Bookmark here

“Please, don’t ever touch me again.”Bookmark here

Her words were cold but her expression made it obvious she was doing her best to remain as polite as possible.Bookmark here

I took a deep breath before deciding to ask again, less violently this time.Bookmark here

“Why can’t I go back? You said you visited my sister for a whole year, so there has to be a way out of here other than that hole.”Bookmark here

“Not exactly.”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Going back and forth between our worlds is a unique ability of the White Rabbit Spade. Only I can do it. Not even Alice could. That’s why I never brought her along.”Bookmark here

I relaxed my shoulders, a little disappointed.Bookmark here

“...I see. That sucks.”Bookmark here

She adjusted her glasses nervously. A soft breeze blew a few times before she spoke again, softly.Bookmark here

“........Although…”Bookmark here

“....?”Bookmark here

She lifted her gaze slightly and finally made proper eye contact with me.Bookmark here

“...There might be a way to bring you back.”Bookmark here

I immediately perked up.Bookmark here

“Yeah? What’s that?”Bookmark here

“..........................No, forget it.”Bookmark here

“Hey, come on, now! You can’t just drop that bomb then not tell me!”Bookmark here

She fidgeted for a second with one of her ears, as if making up her mind about telling me or not.Bookmark here

“Well...Wonderland needs Alice to survive the next Downpour, but...Alice is missing. If we find Alice and make her stop the rain, we'll be able to save the kingdom, and usually, once our hero saves us, the Looking Glass—the portal, opens up and you can finally return to your own world.”Bookmark here

“Oh…”Bookmark here

That seemed straightforward enough. I was starting to feel hopeful about all this already.Bookmark here

“However…”Bookmark here

She interrupted my happy moment with her words. I looked at her and she looked away, continuing.Bookmark here

“We can’t stop the rain if we don’t have at least ten Spades under Alice’s leadership by the time the rain comes. And the only one that can gather and command them is…the Alice Spade.”Bookmark here

“So… you’re saying we have to find my sister first?”

Bookmark here

Zuria shook her head.Bookmark here

“Not exactly. We don’t know where she is so we’ll have to look everywhere for her. That could take us longer than the year we have until the next Downpour.”Bookmark here

“Shit…”Bookmark here

“In the meantime, there’s ways for us to find other Spades. All we need is the divination of the Caterpillar Spade and the Alice pendant—the one you have in your pocket.”Bookmark here

“Oh,” I took it out again to look at it. Still didn’t look like anything too important to me (though pretty gaudy and possibly expensive) “...this thing, huh?”Bookmark here

“Yes. The Alice Pendant is proof that the Alice Spade has been found.”Bookmark here

“...Okay? So we gotta take this to the Caterpillar person and find the other Spades, convince them to join us, and then find my sister...right?”Bookmark here

Zuria sighed.Bookmark here

“Yes...although it would be nice if we could find Alice sooner rather than later. The poor thing must be so scared in this strange world…”Bookmark here

Her words felt like an arrow to my chest. For a second I forgot the tiny detail that my sister was dead, so finding her would do us no good either way. Bookmark here

But...if what Zuria said is right, all I gotta do is convince a bunch of people that Alice is still out there, alive, and as long as they believe that I can make them stop the rain for me and then get the fuck out of here!Bookmark here

Unfortunately, as if reading my mind, Zuria took a step forward again.Bookmark here

“Allen.”Bookmark here

“...?”Bookmark here

“Only the Alice Spade can recruit the other Spades.”Bookmark here

“....”Bookmark here

“That means, we can’t do it without the Alice Spade.”Bookmark here

“Huh? But we have her pendant, and you said there’s a caterpillar—”Bookmark here

“Yes, we have everything we need to do so, except Alice herself.”Bookmark here

“So then…that means we can’t do it after all?”Bookmark here

Zuria was quiet for a long moment.Bookmark here

“We could do it…but…”Bookmark here

She took a deep, deep breath, then slowly exhaled it out. She adjusted her glasses and looked me straight in the eye before speaking the most insane words I’ve ever heard come out of her mouth.Bookmark here

“...You have to become Alice.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.