Curiouser

Where Wonderland, Oz, and a range of fairytale elements inside a game-like universe are all in one!

Emily continues to relive a terrible memory of her mother's death. As she and her older brother Nate are invited to the king's birthday ball, she steps into another world she's never seen before!

It's an adventurous world full of magic, darkness, and strange things.

(Also Available on Wattpad)

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5. Rescue

Emily gagged and coughed, taking a sudden breath. She rolled over and sat up on what looks to be a stone bed beside a wondrous lake. Night had already fallen. Her chest compressed and it was sure hell painful.
She took the helmet off and went up to walk. A fishtail dipped in the water. She looked to the lake, someone was in there. Their head surfaced half way. Seeing the tail fin up and down in the water, she could tell he’s a merman.
His dark hair was like the waves and had seaweed growing out from it in streaks. He gave a creepy stare. She looks back, confused, wondering why he’s looking at her like that.
Someone came out from behind her. As soon as she turned, the merman disappeared. Sir Gold-Digger carried logs of wood, “Oh, you’re awake!” He drops them, “I am so relieved!”
She sighed, the deep breath compressed at her chest that she grunted, “You are?” He gave her a big hug, “You took a nasty fall out the palace window!” He said, “I had to pick you up and carry you out here!”
She backed up, feeling a sprain in her back after that, “What happened to Nathaniel? Is he…is he still back there?” He looked down sadly, “I’m afraid so, miss. I am not certain how we can save him now. There will be more guards waiting for us.”
He’s right, keeping him captive is a trap set for them. They won't stand a chance, not without a plan getting passed security.
He placed the logs of wood together and rubbed a stick between his hands and blew on it to get the fire going. She looks down at the helmet in both hands, with her foggy reflection staring back, “We never got to find the missing villagers. We never got to the mirror in the clouds. Nothing here makes sense, and I know it’s not supposed to. At least some things have out of this nonsensical world.”
She looks down at the fire, flickering as she continued to say, “It’s just too bad we can't save him…” She drops the helmet in. Embers flew out into the air as she walked away. He watches her leave and looks down at the helmet in the fire.
She’s giving up now?
He lets out a sigh, taking it out as he said, “We can, and we will.” At a clang, she turns to see what he’s up to. He’s reshaping the helmet, “What are you doing exactly?” She asked, “I’m fixing up your helmet.” He said.
She sighed, putting a hand to her forehead, “For starters, this armour is not even mine.” She said, “We took it, remember?” He continued shaping it with a hammer, “I know, but you are wearing it now, therefore, it is yours.”
He took a feather he found on the ground that came from a Major Mitchell bat. He stuck it on top of the helmet and then popped it on her head.
She grunts as he fixes it up, “Does it fit all right?” It actually did, before it was a bit big for her head that it’d wobble from side to side, “Yes, how did you know my head size?” He smiled proudly with his hands on his hips as he said, “I didn’t.”
He takes a brush, painting over the shapes on her breast plate, “Where’d you get that?” She pointed, and he looked at it in his hand, “Honestly, I have no idea.” He looks back to her, “Now, what symbol do you want painted over?” He holds plenty of paint as he continued, “Pick a colour?”
She sighed and picked red. He painted an X over her breast plate, since the Letter-Shifter who helped them out, she wanted it to be her personal symbol. He paints dots in it like something took bite marks in it.
He takes the cape off and throws it in an oozing bubbling puddle of purple tar, “What are you doing?” She put hands on her hips with a raised eyebrow. He shrugged, “The quickest way to dye your cape?”
He painted a red X from one point to another, making sure it had holes in the letter. She puts it back on and puts the helmet back on her head. The shape of the helmet was not only fitted small for her head, but it had a red X crossing her face where he added after being done with her cape.
He clapped, “It’s brilliant!” She looked like a real knight, “Question, what if the paint wears off?” He chuckled, “Who told you that? Paint doesn't wear off.”
She crossed her arms and let out a sigh. Her chest compressed again, and she growled a little, “Oh no, you’re hurt!” He held his head. She put a hand to her chest with a grunt, “It may have been from the fall, but believe me, I am fine.”
After he finished repainting her shield, he unrolled a map on top of the stone bed. She looks over his shoulder.
The map showed the inside of the palace, naming every room. On the outside, arrows point through the maze from where it starts and ends, “You had a map to the palace this whole time?” She said, surprised.
He looked to her in thought, “Uh…I only just picked this up on my way to meet up with you and Nathaniel.” He looks back at the map, “All right, there will be guards patrolling the maze, from the entry way to the exit. The palace is guarded well. We’ll have to find a way to sneak by without getting noticed. If one of them catches us, they’ll sound the alarm and we’ll be in for a whole lot of trouble.”
Sir Gold-Digger may be a real strange goof, but he sure plans well in dire situations. They have to get to the palace undetected. In order to do that, they’ll have to check where the guards are patrolling.
The merman surfaced from the lake again. She backhands Sir Gold-Digger’s shoulder for his attention, “What’s his problem?” She pointed to the glaring merman. He shrugged and said, “It seems he’s trying to lure you in the water, but it appears to not be working.”
She remembered the vampire gazing into her eyes. He tried to take control of her mind, but it didn't work. How is she able to resist their power?
She blinked and looked to Sir Gold-Digger, “Well to the moment at hand. We’ll have to try and check out where the guards are patrolling.” She said. He agreed, “Good plan!”
Guards patrolled on the outside of the maze all right, but they also were, inside. How are they going to get around without getting caught first?
She lowered the binoculars, “This is going to be tough.” They lied on top of a hill near the palace. He took back his binoculars and looked as well, “We could just…well…uh…” He couldn't think of anything.
She sighed, forgetting the compression in her chest when she takes a deep breath. She squeezed her eyes shut, putting a hand on her chest, the compression hurt more lying down.
He sparked an idea, “We can get through when they’re not looking! You see, they walk one way and then turn around and walk back. We can hurry to one of the paths in the maze before they even spot us. We can get by, easy!”
She got to her feet, looking over the guards in the maze, “It just may work. Ok, we can do it!” She puts the helmet on her head and looks to him. He closed his, and put away the binoculars, standing beside her. He nodded, “Ready!”
They sneak up to the maze. Two guarded the entry way. She was looking up at the Major Mitchell bat hanging on a tree. Picking up a stone, she gave it a kiss, “I hope this works.” She said, and threw it up. The stone hit the bird in the head. It squawked and flew. The guards saw it coming and leapt out of the way as it went over the maze.
They hurried in before the guards got up to notice. They snuck in and backed against the hedge. One guard walked by, holding a gem which lit the way like a torch.
They carry on up and hide into the next end. Another guard was patrolling in the opposite direction. As they proceed through the maze, there are two guards patrolling opposite each other.
She throws the stone over. They look in the end of the maze where it landed. They hurry by and go to reach the centre. A lot of guards wandered. They’ll never get by them. He huffed, “Let me do it.” He walked through, “Sir Gold-Digger!” She whispered.
He got by without any of them detecting him. It was their gem light, if it touches you, they see you. She gave it a try. Two were coming in with their light almost touching her feet. She sighed in relief. The compression in her chest made it hard.
A light trailed up in her direction. At a moment of panic, Sir Gold-Digger pulled her away, getting himself caught instead. The gem flashed and he was made still as a statue. She gasped at his frozen state. Her chest compressed again.
As the guards were rung in, she hid away into an end of the maze. The guards were to take him away to the palace. She continued on through to the exit.
More guarded the palace just as well as the maze. Now that Sir Gold-Digger is taken captive next, she had to find a way to get in all on her own. She got this far. She can’t turn away now.
A pair of guards stood by the doors. She didn't know how to distract them without anything to use. She remembered Sir Gold-Digger using a shield to knock them out, but she can’t sneak up to them and do it. There’s nowhere to sneak. She has to try something else.
Taking the shield off, she thought of something different. Holding it side-ways, she spun to give it a fling like a Frisbee. The shield pinged in the side of one’s head to the other, knocking out the both of them.
She heard guards coming up from inside the maze and had to hurry up the steps to get inside, taking the shield with her first.
The inside of the palace is different from when she last saw it. The walls and pillars are navy blue. The palace looked as if it were breathing. The walls moved in motion. She climbs the stairs to the hall.
They seemed to go on forever. As she continues up the endless stairs, the room changes, and she’s standing in the middle of the hall. There are no doors and no stairs.
She walks up to the enormous painting of the British soldier, “You’ve returned!” He said with glee, “Yes, and I see that you’re here, too.” She said. He blinked, “I’ve never left.”
“What do you mean, never left?”
The ground shook, “No time to talk now, miss! You must hurry!” The painting opened a secret passage. She looked back to see the ground breaking down with cracks of pink light, “Go, go!” He said. She sprung forward and rolled. The painting closed behind her.
She wheezed at the compression on her chest. Taking time to relax, she peered over at a little door and turned its tiny knob, locked. She sighed and sat down for a minute. Her foot cluttered next to something.
She picked up whatever it was and found it’s the skeleton key that fell out. The key’s too big to fit into a tiny lock, but it shifted to a small size. She gave it a try.
After unlocking the little door, she peeked through. Nathaniel is contained, held by magic rope inside a tube. His staff must be placed up in that room again, with even more security.
How is she going to get though this tiny door? There has to be a bigger one for her to fit through somewhere. Looking around the room, there seems not to be one that she can see. How can this be the only door?
She looked again. There was a glint somewhere hiding behind the dusty old paintings. She placed them aside and found a handheld mirror with a frame of green and blue letters. What use is for a mirror?
The reflection brightened and morphed. The upside-down head from the large mirror appeared. She sighed with relief, maybe he can help, “I am so glad to see you.” She said, “I need help. I’m stuck in this dusty room and with only a tiny door-” the mirror cut in, “Look again.”
She blinked, “What?” The mirror nodded over to the little door, “Look again.” His voice echoed as he faded back to her reflection. She sighed and looked back at the door. She opened it again and found herself in a wider space. The door is bigger now. She exits into the room where Nathaniel is bound. She put the mirror in a pouch tied to her belt.
She placed a hand on the glass. Nathaniel didn’t look up. He didn’t move. He was very still. His hair is the only thing moving in the bluish water. There are no bubbles escaping his lips or nose like in the real world.
She looked around for something to break the glass. To free her brother who wasn’t. She picked up a curved neon green chair, and very odd one at that. Someone can so easily slip off it if they even tried to sit down.
The chair was metallic though tacky like plastic, a plastic metal material of a sort? Maybe it’s the paint-job. Where would they even find paint like this anyway? It’s an odd world she lives in. Of course, nothing here in this world makes sense. It’s not supposed to.
She swung back the chair and gave the glass tube a direct hit. The chair was tough, but not tough enough to even break the glass, not even a crack. It was her that was doing the hitting. She needed more force.
She tried again, hitting harder this time. Still, not enough to break it, she growled and walked back about twenty feet away. In a fit of rage, she chucked the chair by the legs. It finally shattered the glass.
The water poured onto the floor, flowing out to her feet. Her body sank in. The floor under her was no longer there, just a deep pool of clear blue water.
She swam her way across. A fin rose to the surface. She stopped and looked back. A shadow of something massive is in the pool with her.
In great panic, she paddled faster. The fin followed. She climbed onto the floor tiles where Nathaniel stood in the centre. She wriggled up and got her feet out of the water before the shadow got any closer.
The glass cracked from her treading up. She watched the fin circling them. Nathaniel was muttering nonsense, most of the stuff she couldn't make out, “Brown cows make milk, chocolate.” He muttered on, “The moon’s made of cheese.”
She clicked her fingers in his face, “Nathaniel, snap out of it!” He continued on with his muttering of nonsense.
Desperate, she shook him and called, “Nate!” His eyes shifted colour for a millisecond, like her brother’s eye colour showed through his. He blinked to her and said, “What?”
She never thought calling out her brother’s name would work. It was only just a slip of the tongue. She never intended on saying it, but it happened, a lucky accident which sure broke him from the nonsensical ramblings.
She pointed to the fin circling them, “We have to get out now, before that shark takes a bite out of us!”
He looked over and said, “You do still have that whistle on you, right?” She searched in the pouch and found it. Giving it a blow, water squirted out making a squeaky tune.
The rope didn’t drop. She tried again, and more water squirted a blunt tune. There shouldn't be that much left in the whistle, “Give it to me.” He said. She held it to his lips and he blew. No water squirt and no irritating high-pitched sound. The rope dropped free.
He hurried around to the end of the floor tiles to leap onto the other side, which was a lot further than anyone can make it, but somehow he did.
He turned back to her. She trembled unsure of making it across. The fin passed through. She couldn't trust herself of what might happen if she never made that leap, that shark in the pool would be able to tear her to pieces.
As soon as the fin had gone, Nathaniel reached out his arms, “Come on, you can do it!” He called. She rested her back against the tile wall where the tube sat against.
She looked down at the pool, saw how deep it was. There’s a chance the shark could’ve dived lower, and at any moment, jump out and take her with it. She couldn't stop thinking about what this shark could do if she tried.
She held her breath and went ahead up to the floor tiles. A massive splash came right up. As big as a megalodon, the shark stopped her from going on ahead. It fell back into the water and swam into the deep darkness.
Her eyes wide and heart pounding more than ever, she’s never known true horror and terror until today. The scariest thing in existence was a shark that size, able to eat you in one gulp.
Nathaniel still waited on the other side, and he too was surprised by this. She got to her feet and then the ceiling started to leak. Water opened through and the massive shark came through it with its mouth wide open. All those many sharp teeth, she felt death overcoming her. Her heart couldn't contain this sort of fear.
Nathaniel cupped his mouth to yell, “You have a sword, use it!” She forgot she had one strapped to her belt. She pulled it out and as the shark came down, she dived into the pool.
The shark wriggled about and dropped onto the tile floor with Emily flying with it, holding onto the handle of the sword which was stabbed into its back.
She crashed down and the sword pulled back out as the shark scraped off down into the pool. Blood smeared the edge of the tiles.
She rolled over onto her back, “Never again…” She muttered. Nathaniel called over, “Are you ok!?” She gave him a thumbs up to let him know she’s fine. Her chest compressed from heavy breathing, but it felt easier now.
He leaped over and took her by the hand, “You could have just leapt over when I said.” The armour was weighing her down after that one battle with a big shark. Not exactly a battle, but still she got injured. A few tiles must’ve fallen into the pool after that massive thud when the two of them hit the floor.
She swayed a little, “Can we just go get your staff, find Sir Gold-Digger, and just get the…” she trailed off, nearly to the point of collapsing. He held her by the shoulder to keep her steady, “The shapes out of here? Sure. Wait…what’s Sir Gold-Digger planning?”
She sighed, “Nathaniel, Sir Gold-Digger sacrificed himself so I could get into the palace. There’s security everywhere in the maze. He froze still like a statue from their light.”
He looked down, blank, “So they have him now?” She nodded, giving a sad look as she said, “Yes.” His arms held her into a hug. Nate would hug her whenever they felt so grim. Nathaniel was no different. She never thought he cared that much about Sir Gold-Digger. It’s not a big loss, if they can find him in the palace too, right?

~|~


The two of them reached up into the room where his staff would be. For some reason there had been no guards, no one to stop them. Where had everyone gone?
She thought maybe they’re all outside guarding the palace, but shouldn't there be enough indoors?
Nathaniel stood his ground, “It may be a trap.” He said, “We mustn't risk it. We can be caught in this.” She looked up at the doors and back to him, “Is there another way in?”
He shook his head, “I don’t know. It’s not like I live here.”
She sighed and said, “Stupid question, sorry.” She looked down at the nudge on her belt. The pouch had dropped. She reached down to pick it up but it pushed away from her hand to the door, “Huh?” She raised an eyebrow.
Nathaniel watched, “What’s going on?”
She attempted to pick it up again. It slid away along the door, “It’s no use trying to catch it.” He said.
She groaned, “I don't know what’s up with it.” He cupped his hand over to the side of it. The pouch slid away and she caught it, “Gotcha!” She raised it in victory.
The pouch squirmed, “A life of its own, I had no idea.” She said. He shook his head with a grin, “It’s never been alive. You made it real.”
She looked up, wide eyed, “I did?” He looked back to her, confused, “Did what?” She lowered the pouch and said, “Made it real.” He blinked, “Made what real?”
She frowned, “Don’t play games with me! You know what you said!” He sighed and said, “I clearly have no clue what you’re talking about. Crazy.”
She growled and threw the pouch at his head, “Hey, you’re the crazy one! I’m the sanest person here in this nonsensical world!”
He rubbed the side of his face where the pouch hit, “Sane, are you sure about that?” To be honest, she wasn’t so sure. She spoke to paintings and photos before coming here. That’s not what a sane person does. Maybe she is in some way, crazy.
The pouch hadn’t moved from the spot where it fell. She picked it up again and tied it to her belt.
Nathaniel put a hand to the doors, “Now what are you doing?” She asked. He shushed her and whispered, “Concentrating.” She crossed her arms over her chest, can he really do magic without a staff?
The doors formed a symbol of light, and then the doors broke free. Every trap inside activated. The net fell to the floor and an alarm was blaring throughout the palace. He took her by the hand, “We must hurry before they come too!”
They ran to the staff, “Blow!” He called anxiously. She took out the whistle and blew, still water squirted in a squeak. He sighed and gave it a try. The rope dropped and the staff fell into his hands.
She looked back. The guards charged up with their swords. She pulled at his arm, “They’re coming!” He was too busy examining the staff, “This isn’t my staff. It’s a fake.” He said. She blinked, “What!?”
His eyes lowered, “It’s a decoy…” he threw it away. Something wasn’t right with him. His fists clenched, “Where’s my staff..?” He muttered, angrily. She put a hand on his shoulder for him to run, “Now’s not the time to worry! The guards are coming in!”
She was panicking, and Nathaniel was too busy infuriating over a staff to even notice. His fists no longer clenched. He let out a sigh, “I’m sorry,” he said, “you must hate me.”
She didn't understand, “Why would I hate you?”
He turned to her, facing the floor, “Losing it over a staff.” He said. She took him by the hand, “You will never lose.”
She said the same to Nate when he apologised about losing it. It may not make much sense, but it did in a way to them.
Nate has always noticed about his sister’s odd nature. He’d catch her talking to herself, or to things. Ever since their mother’s passing, she’s been doing it frequently.
He feared for Emily’s mental health. If anyone saw her like that, she’d be thrown in the Kingston Asylum to be lobotomised. Everything that she was would be gone forever.
Emily knew. She’d be quieter and made sure no one was looking when she did. Not many already know something’s a bit off about her. She tries her hardest to play normal in public.
In this world, normal is nowhere. Everything is made to mess with your head. Without it, there would not be a more interesting place to wonder than this wonderland.

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