Chapter 10:

The Pancake Breakfast


I woke up the next morning to the smell of sweet syrup and pancakes.Bookmark here

I completely forgot I was sleeping on a hammock, and as I turned towards the smell, I rolled down and hit the wooden floor with a big thud.Bookmark here

“Ouch! Motherf—”Bookmark here

“Good morning, Allen.”Bookmark here

Zuria was sitting down on the little table in the room, where two plates of pancakes were set. One for herself, almost completely gone, and another untouched, opposite of where she was sitting.Bookmark here

I rubbed my head, and I felt that my hair was still long. Ugh.Bookmark here

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said, stuffing her face with another piece of pancake.Bookmark here

“What? Please, you’re the quietest person I’ve ever met.”Bookmark here

I got on my feet and walked to the table, pulling the empty chair and plopping myself down on it.Bookmark here

“You made this? …Is it for me?”Bookmark here

“Please, help yourself.”Bookmark here

I was a little skeptical about consuming anything here, but I knew what pancakes were. And, she was eating a stack, too. I didn’t really think there was anything wrong with them, but as I cut into one of them and picked up a piece with my fork, I examined it closely.Bookmark here

“Is it poisoned?”Bookmark here

Of course I had to ask.Bookmark here

Zuria shook her head. Bookmark here

“It is not.”Bookmark here

I sneered, and ate the piece. As I did, her eyes stayed on me the entire time, then I saw a small smile forming on her face.Bookmark here

“If I wanted to kill you, why would I wait until you were awake?”Bookmark here

Okay, that gave me chills.Bookmark here

“...You’re so creepy.”Bookmark here

I kept on eating. She was wiping her face with her napkin, and I could swear she looked somewhat pleased with herself for scaring me. I wanted to ask so many things, but I also didn’t know where to start.Bookmark here

Well, first things first, I guess.Bookmark here

“What happened to the caterpillar lady?”Bookmark here

“She left already. But don’t worry, she left preparations for you, for when we go out today.”Bookmark here

“Today…? Ah, that’s right! She didn’t finish explaining anything to me yesterday!”Bookmark here

“...About?”Bookmark here

“What do you mean, ‘about’!? The combat thing!”Bookmark here

“Oh, that.” Bookmark here

She calmly took a sip of her tea before continuing.Bookmark here

“It’s a crucial part of your role as the Alice Spade, you see. So we couldn’t explain that to you as you were yesterday. You were aggravated and yelling, so we had to force you to calm down.”Bookmark here

“By drugging me!?”Bookmark here

“Ambrosia’s pipe smoke serves many purposes. She simply wanted you to rest. Are you feeling calm today?”Bookmark here

I scowled at her as I shoved another piece of pancake in my mouth.Bookmark here

“Fuck no. But there’s nothing I can do about it now, right? Man… how did the other Alice Spades even take this bullshit?”Bookmark here

Zuria’s face was as calm as ever, but her tone was a little curt.Bookmark here

“The other Alice Spades all had proper, lengthy training prior to being brought here. They knew what they were in for. That’s why we're especially understanding of your particular circumstances.”Bookmark here

“That’s your way of being understanding? That tall woman punched me!”Bookmark here

Zuria completely ignored me. Instead, she reached inside her pocket and handed me a yellow armband with a symbol I only recognized from the pendant I took from my sister.Bookmark here

“This is the symbol of the chosen Spades. Anyone who wears one like this is an ally, and one of the heroes that will help us stop the rain this year. Yours is particularly special and modified by Ambrosia. Put it on.”Bookmark here

I wiped my mouth with my sleeve, turning the armband in my other hand.Bookmark here

“Right now? …Sure.”Bookmark here

I put my fork down and slid the armband as far up. What was the point in hesitating now, right? Nothing made sense here, and this was the least crazy request I’ve heard in awhile, if I’m honest.Bookmark here

As the armband went up my arm, a warm array of sparkles were shining along with it. When I brought it up as far as it would go, I realized my clothes had changed back into the light blue dress I had been wearing before. Bookmark here

“What!? Not this again!!”Bookmark here

Zuria adjusted her glasses.Bookmark here

“Ambrosia said it is important that you keep a sense of your own identity, so instead of permanently giving you the outfit, you have the choice to return to your own self when we’re away from the public eye.”Bookmark here

Man, I was pissed. Bookmark here

But honestly, this was better than what I was expecting. All in all, it did sorta feel like Zuria was trying her best to not completely hate me, even though I know every breath I took in front of her made her wish I was my sister instead.Bookmark here

“...Fine.”Bookmark here

Her long ears seemed to twitch at my reply.Bookmark here

“I said fine, I’ll do it. I’ll wear the dress and go fight crime or whatever.”Bookmark here

Zuria smiled warmly at me.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Allen.”Bookmark here

I scoffed, and stuffed a large piece of pancake in my mouth.Bookmark here

“We don’t fight crime, however.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I kinda figured,” I said with my mouth full. “But you won’t tell me what we’re fighting so I just said the first thing that came to my head.”Bookmark here

She averted her eyes with embarrassment for a moment, as if feeling bad she’s kept me in the dark for so long, on purpose or not.Bookmark here

She took in a deep breath.Bookmark here

“Unfortunately, not everyone in Wonderland wants to stop the rain. There are those who would rather have it wipe us all out, for their own reasons, so they work to protect the rain pillars, and want to get rid of all Alice Spades before they’re gathered.”Bookmark here

Her words were few, but that felt like a lot of information at once.Bookmark here

“...Huh. Guess even this world has its wackos.”Bookmark here

“Indeed,” she nodded, “wackos.”Bookmark here

I pushed my empty plate in front of me.Bookmark here

“So what, we go and protect these guys or gather them all up before they’re killed or something?”Bookmark here

“Well, that’s… not exactly possible.”Bookmark here

“Why not?”Bookmark here

“Being a Spade isn’t something you gain by fate or some higher power.”Bookmark here

I blinked, shocked by this revelation more than any other.Bookmark here

“It’s not? Then how does anyone become a Spade, then?”Bookmark here

She pointed at me with her finger.Bookmark here

You choose them.”Bookmark here

“I what—”Bookmark here

BOOOOOM!Bookmark here

Before I could finish my sentence, a great explosion shook the entire room. Bookmark here

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