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.

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1. Wander

She sat by her ill mother's bed, too late to cure as the doctor checks for a pulse. The father grabs his daughter as she cries. The grasp on her mother's hand slips away. The girl reaches out, crying harder than ever before, "No!" Her voice echoes.

The doctor unfolds a white sheet over her mother's face. The door closes, and all the girl sees is darkness. The grip of her father's arms disappears.

All alone, the little girl coiled up with her arms wrapped around her knees. She sniffles with a burn in her throat from all the force of tears.

A scratchy voice echoes, "It is not all bad you see...everything will be just fine...trust me, child...the feeling will not last..."

As she squeezes her eyes shut, trembling from the voice, another voice snaps her back into reality, "Emily?" It was her older brother Nate.

With a look of worry on his face every time she's lived the same memory over since their father died a couple of years ago.

She wiped her eyes and said, "I'm ok." He sat at the foot of the bed, "You say that every time." She closed her eyes still coiled up under the sheets, groaning, "I do?"

"Yes, and you need help!" He pulled the blanket. Her body chilled from the sudden breeze, "Hey!" She tugged back.

He walked around to the side of the bed, turning his back before lying right on top of her, "Oi!" She growled, trying to break free, "You're too heavy!"

He chuckled, "Maybe you should get out of bed then." She flustered and yelled, "I will if you get off me!"

Straightening his suit, he said "As you wish." He put his hands in pockets facing the door, "You're so childish!" She said, throwing a pillow.

"Childish people are more fun." He said with a smile. Nate never took anything seriously, except for their parents' death of course. He was always there for Emily, like any big brother would. He'd make her laugh, forgetting the bad.

Nothing's been the same since their mother's passing. She can't seem to laugh anymore; it only brings more pain. It makes her remember it more than to forget. He tries his hardest, but he just doesn't get it. No one does. She squeezed the other pillow in her arms, pressing her cheek against it.

In the kitchen where he flipped pancakes in the air humming a tune, she walks in a frilly blue dress. He served the pancakes on a plate for the both of them, "Thank you." She said.

They were about to enjoy their breakfast, until there came a knock at the door, "I'll get that." He left the table.

A man at the door tipped his hat to him, "Good day to you. I have quite some news to share, if you don't mind?"

He nodded, "Not at all."

The man pulls out a scroll and clears his throat before reading, "This week will be the king's birthday! He has invited all to attend his ball at sundown tomorrow! Don't be late!" He bowed before leaving to the carriage. He closed the door, "Did you catch all that?" She mumbled under her breath, "Unfortunately..."

The king isn't as kind and generous like his father who once ruled four years ago before his death. He died of an illness which could not be treated. His only son, Prince Anthony, was crowned king the very next day, and he ruled selfishly.

She opens the wardrobe to find a dress she hasn't worn in a while. The mint green one with the white lace, perfect!

After lacing up her shoes, she stops at an old photograph of her family, long before their parents' death. Taking it in her hands, and looking down at their smiling faces, she said, "I miss you..."

The picture moves, "We're still here with you." Her mother said, as her father looks up, "Don't you worry about a thing. We'll always be your side, the both of you." He nodded. A tear sheds, "I know." She said, wiping her eye with a sleeve.

As she and Nate faced each other at the same time, he took a close look, "No make-up?"

Slapping a hand to her cheek, she forgot. He sighed, looking to the sunset, "We don't have much time anyway. We better leave."

Picking up the box wrapped in white with a shiny blue ribbon, they left to the car. In the left part of the room inside the palace, presents piled up.

The guard pointed to leave the box just there. Nate placed it on the top of the large rectangle box, wrapped in purple with a red bow.

As everyone gathered in the ballroom, violins played. The king rose from his throne and announced, "Welcome everyone to my birthday ball, go on and enjoy!"

Nate looked to the snacks on the buffet table, "Don't eat so much." Emily sighed; this isn't the first time he pigged out at a party.

She stood by a painting of an eighteenth century British soldier, "Quite the party." He said, "Isn't it strange that the king now wants to invite everyone inside his palace?"

As she watched everyone else, she said, "I never actually thought about that." He blinks, looking around, "Be careful, who knows what his plans are."

A group of ladies kept a close eye on her, "She's talking to herself?" The short chubby one asked.

She sighed, "I know he's selfish, but he can't be all bad, right?" He looked down at her, "You tell me, is he?"

Scanning the room, something tiny disappeared between dresses of two young ladies, "Did you see that?" She asked, the soldier's eyes went in all directions, "See what?"

The tall older woman with grey hair watched her hurry through the crowed, narrowing her eyes in suspicion, "Very odd."

She followed it under the table where the pink tail disappeared. Crawling in to the other side, it all faded dark.

The tablecloth behind her waved grey and frail. There's laughter coming from everyone in foggy vision. They appeared much larger than normal, as she looked up at their black blurred faces.

The white figure scampered to a hole in the wall. A shadow casts over as a giant foot steps down. She rolls out of the way as more feet hover over. Stomping one by one, she takes leap inside the wall.

Sliding in loops all the way down until she flew through the air, a purple light flickered ahead. Flying closer, the light was just inside another opening in the wall.

Her body crashed into the dusty royal blue rug. She dusts off her dress covered in dirt patches. The purple light came from a chandelier hanging above her head. Being in a brick wall, it looked quite like a fancy room for mice.

Following the rug at the end, she enters the green arched door. Inside a crooked upside-down room, another door creaked open, swirling in colours of yellow and pink.

Her feet slide along the ceiling floor by a gust of wind. Her hair waves out in her face. She falls forward across the room. Gripping onto whatever's nearest, she pulls herself up, holding on tightly to the chandelier.

As it pulls in with the whirlwind, the wiring in the ground causes a crack. With a sudden shudder of the cord, her hands lose their grip and slip away, flying into the orange vortex. She screams as the wind dies out and the door slams.

Silverware fly passed her head. The skirt of her dress is chewed away like a caterpillar taking chunks off a leaf. Fading at each bite, the dress evaporates in the air.

A crooked clock with zigzags and two wavy hands spinning opposite each other, flies in with a its mouth of razor teeth wide open.

Opening her eyes, she finds herself floating and spinning around. Green and purple orbs stuck to her body, adding on until she was completely covered. A clock opens like a door, letting her fly in.

She gets up off the ground, and as the orbs melt away, it reveals a whole new dress in random patterns of swirls, zigzags, stripes, and wavy lines. The stockings are mismatched; one of squares, and the other of triangles. Her lace gloves are covered in crosses, and her shoes are curled up at the toes.

Looking around a room of many clocks winding in all directions, she said to herself as she wandered, "Very odd place I stumbled into."

The little mouse scampers ahead, taking a turn by a clock stuck in the ground. She hurries to catch up, but stops at around the corner. It seems to have disappeared.

Checking the clock, she put her hands on her hips, "Odd." A key stuck out on the side, "I wonder..." She winds it until it can't go any further. The curvy hands on the clock spin in great speed, and the trap door below her, opens.

She crawls through the narrow tunnel to the end where another opening in the wall takes her to a dark room. A green orb lit the way. She follows it to the next door, entering a world she's never seen before.

A Major Mitchell cockatoo head on the body of a white bat, lands into a tree of wobbly branches where it hung upside-down, squawking. The leaves hung like snakes, and as she drew closer, it turns out they were.

They strangled the cockatoo bat, hissing. It snapped back, snipping them in half like a pair of scissors. As she stood back and watched this strange and unusual action, the cockatoo bat squawked, now claiming the tree for itself.

Continuing along the path, she sighed, "This world is just getting stranger. I have no clue where I am, or how to get out."

Giant pink butterfly winged birds with fur, flew together across the clear green sky. Their wings bore shapes of diamonds and polka dots in green and yellow. That's when she noticed; the grass is blue, and the trees are yellow.

She steps onto the green brick road, it hummed and glowed. Taking her foot back with a gasp, she again, puts her foot back onto the brick. It hummed and glowed like before.

Bringing out another foot, it hummed a different tune. By each step she took along the road, it created harmonic music, "This I could get use to."

A giant tree stood in the way. The butterfly winged birds tweeted brashly. She looked by to get around it, until branches grew out from the ground. A harsh voice spoke, "You may not pass me, until you answer five of my riddles!"

She took a step back, facing the tree, "Oh, uh...ok?" His roots furled, "What gets wetter as it dries?" Tapping a thumb to her chin, she couldn't think of anything. What can get wetter as it dried?

She thought hard to find the answer, "May I ask for a hint?"

The tree growled, "No! Hints make things far too easy."

She's never been asked a riddle before in her life. How can she get this without a hint? And then it hit her. Of course, it's so obvious!

She answered, "Is it...a towel?" He shook his branches, "You tell me, is it?" Unsure, she still went with the answer, "Y-yes?"

He waved his roots, "Correct. Now, what has a face and two hands, but no arms and legs?" This one's tricky. She thought to herself, "Something that has a face and hands, but no arms and legs, what could that be?"

It took a minute to figure out; she thought about that room she was just in and answered away, "A clock has a face with hands that points to the time. It's a clock!"

He waved his roots again, "Correct! What has a neck but no head?" She rubbed her chin, "What has a neck but no head? What has a neck but no head? A bottle has a neck, is it a bottle?"

His eyes narrowed, "Perhaps, are you sure?" She thought it through, mumbling to herself, "I can't get this wrong, I am so close!" Looking back to the tree, she took the risk, "I believe so."

He nodded, "You are correct, two more questions to go. What goes up, but never comes down?" She repeated the question, "What goes up, but never comes down?" Looking away in thought, she put a hand on her forehead, "Come on Emily."

It's been two and half minutes. The tree yawned, "Tic-tok, tic-tok." She thought about the answer for a while, "I do hope I'm right." She said, looking back at him, "Age?"

His roots waved, "Hmm...correct. The last question is always the hardest." His eyes narrowed, "A rooster standing on the top of a roof lays an egg. One side has a pitch of 45 degrees, and the other side has 63 degrees. At which side will the egg roll?"

This is a very difficult question indeed. She calculated in her head of which side the egg will fall, "One side is 45 degrees, and the other is 63..." she said, pacing and twiddling her fingers anxiously, "I may not be right, but I think it will be...63 degrees."

The tree yelled as he waved at his roots harshly, "Incorrect!" The butterfly winged birds flew off the branches and swarmed below. She ducked, holding her head.

The birds whooshed in an attack formation, "Wait a minute..." She said as the birds flew downward, "You tricked me! A rooster doesn't lay eggs!" He raised an eyebrow.

Looking to the bird, he whipped them away before one of them took her down. The branches in the ground retreated. He said, "As part of riddles, some will trick, you must think smart, you may now pass." She walks over the roots to the other side, "I'll take note of that next time."

The green brick road ended, and with the cliff so high, there's no telling what's below. She's already come this far. Maybe she's missed something.

The green sky mirrored down below. This could just be another trick. The tip of her foot touched the reflecting sky creating ripples, "Huh, it is just another trick."

She continued through the air, "I'd like to know exactly where I'm going." As clouds gathered, growing from dark purple to light. Heavy rain poured upwards from the sky under her. She groans, holding her skirt, "Great..."

Stepping into the fog, she sighed, "Of course, why not make it worse than it already is?" As the rain stopped half way, the fog parted a giant mirror with a misty frame of green and purple stripes. At the look of her own reflection, she growled, "How come no one told me my hair's a mess!?" The knots of her strawberry blonde hair revealed only one pin sticking out. She tugged at it, "Ow!" She whined and growls again.

The reflection warped, "Huh?" She said in surprise, watching her body morph; shrinking and growing, thinning and thickening. Putting her hands on her hips, she said with a frown, "What is this, a trick mirror?"

The reflection rippled, and out revealed a large black puff of smoke in the centre. Two white holes opened below, and a wide white opening smiled on top with what looked like sharp teeth. It said, "You're not too wrong there."

She backed up to see it without straining her neck, "Oh, are you here to riddle me too for me to pass you?" The head, in which hung upside-down, shook, "I do not riddle for passage, but there is something I need. Someone who is not a mirror, such as yourself, may be more capable to grab it for me."

She sighed, "All right, what is it you need me to do?" The reflection rippled and the head disappeared in with it. An image of a cave revealed in its place. Ugly creatures marched holding spears, axes, bats, and hammers. It zoomed in on a treasure chest upstairs.

The image rippled again, and the head returned, "I gather you wish me to find whatever's in that chest?" She said.

He nodded, "Indeed. Inside that chest holds a scroll, but not just any scroll. It is most important, so never, under any circumstance, read it aloud!"

She noted, "Got it. So...where do I go to get this scroll, exactly?" The reflection rippled out again, and this time, no image of a clue appeared, "Hey!" She called out to the mirror, but no answer, "So rude." She put her hands back on her hips.

As the ground shook, she lost balance taking a few steps away. Her feet dropped through the air. Falling her way down pass the clouds, a light one blew in and her body bounced like hitting a pillow.

To her surprise that she didn't go straight through, more clouds lined up; a path leading where ever it took. At a running start, she jumped and landed with a grunt onto the next.

Leaping to the last, she looked ahead; it's too far out of reach. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply before taking a leap.

Just as she sees the end of the cliff, her foot misses. She gasps, heart pounding in fear as she just failed to reach it.

She lands on something soft. Another cloud rose in line. She steps off onto the cliff and turns back. It floats down, and then up again. With wide eyes, she said, "Oh, tricky cloud."

Continuing her quest, the cave was just up ahead. Two of those horrible creatures guarded the entrance, "How am I supposed to do this without a thing to defend myself?" Searching the environment, there was but one thing, "Hmm..."

She gathered some rocks, holding one ready to throw. On the top of his head, he rambled angrily. He whacked him in the back of the head. Smiling, she threw another, hitting the next in the head.

He growled. As the two bickered, they tackled each other and rolled away. She picked up what they left behind to defend herself. Two axes are better than one.

More creatures paced inside the cave. She managed to sneak her way around them to get to the stairs. The chest wouldn't open without a key, and one of the creatures wore it around their neck. She remembered the remaining pin tangled in her hair and made an attempt to pull it out. Painfully tugging, she kept quiet from crying.

Her eyes watered, giving up. The pin is really in there; even trying to unravel it doesn't work. There's only two options, take the key from the creature's neck and risk having to take down all of them, or use the axe to cut the pin out of her hair. It has to come out sooner or later. Holding up on the handle, she straightened out her hair tight and swung away.

She pulled the pin out from the knots and shaped it out before rattling it in the lock. It's not working. It looks like she may have to fetch that key. One slept on a broken throne wearing it around his neck. There's too many on guard to reach him. She's never fought before, but she will today.

One on guard sounds the alarm. The rest charged in with weapons. Spears flew in her direction. She hurried back, stepping away until the back of her heels kicked the chest. There's nowhere to run.

Scared out of her wits from their bats and axes swinging, she anxiously swung back, which didn't help. Looking away with her eyes shut, she managed to chop two in the head.

One hits her with a bat, "Ouch!" She axes him back in the face. As they continue to beat her, the dress cuts from a close call.

She moves back her foot almost getting an axe to it. A blow hits her in the side of the leg. She screams painfully. With an axe stuck in her leg, she collapses on one knee.

The king holding a key around his neck approaches to take her out himself. With a much larger axe, he raised it high in both hands.

She lowers her head. "The pain won't last forever..." said the same scratchy voice from her nightmares.

By a flash of pink light, and a ringing sound in her ears, she opened her eyes. Looking around where the creatures' lied still, she pokes with her foot, no movement. Did she do this?

She remembered the axe in her leg. Looking to where she got struck, it wasn't there anymore. The stocking's ripped, but there's no blood. How can that be?

Realising a chain in her hand, she holds up her palm, it's the key! Unlocking the chest, she pushes it open. Only a scroll tied with a blue ribbon is all that was inside.

Returning to the cliff, she steps onto the rising and falling cloud. After she landed onto the next, the scroll flew out of her hand, "No!" She watched it fade below.

Sitting on the edge of the cloud, she drops onto another which only moved back and forth. Within the fog, the scroll sat just a metre below.

She continues on to the next one down, and then makes a final landing. At the sound of high-pitched squealing, she covers her ears in agony, and grunts, "What is that!?"

The scroll was just at her feet. Before she could swipe it, a mouse carried it away inside the cave, "Hey!" She called to stop it. A ghostly figure stood in her way, squealing loudly.

She backs up, covering her ears again and growled, "I haven't got time for this!"

The ghost lashes its long claws. She loses balance and steps back onto a bright white circle. It sprung her up into the air where she landed on top of a moving cloud. As it brought her forward, she jumps on top of the ghost, before stepping off into the cave.

A loud squeal echoed through the tunnel. She brakes at three sections. With no clue which path to take, she has to think fast. Which way does she go, left, middle, or right? The suspense is killing! She needs help choosing!

Orbs lit up the tunnels. The red one hums and lights brighter. The yellow one follows next, and then the orange. They played different tunes just like the green brick road. In front of her were three dots of the same colour and order as the orbs. She has to choose the same order they hum.

She remembers the red one humming first, and puts her hand down. The orb in the tunnel dimmed dark.

The ghost's squeal drew closer.

She couldn't remember the next one, so she took a guess and hit the orange one. The red orb lit up again, she got it wrong.

The orbs hummed in a different order, with only this time, she focused.  She hits each in the correct order. They fused a flaming orb into one tunnel.

The ghost charged in. Into the middle path where the orb lit the way, a stone wall carved in blue symbols, closed in behind her.

She sighed in relief as her heart continued thumping from all the suspenseful panic. Following the flame down spiral stairs, she reached another door made of stone, entering an office with a pile of books scattered all over the floor.

She peered over the desk, someone is behind the pileup; a toad in a dusty brown suit wearing a pair of reading glasses. He ripped out a page, "No." He said to himself in frustration.

He didn't take notice of her standing right beside him, "Excuse me?" She said. He wrote with a feathered pen dipped in ink, taking notes as he said, "Yes, yes, what is it?"

She cleared her throat, holding her hands behind her back, "Have you seen a mouse come by this way?" He put a hand to his forehead, continuing to the next page, "A mouse, you say?"

"Yes sir, you see...he took something important, and I really need it back."

He ripped out another page, "I'm afraid I cannot help you with that. I have not seen a mouse come by here as I am far too busy writing an important piece I may never get done due to lack of inspiration!"

She pointed out to the mess, "Is that why all the books are on the floor?" He rubbed his temples, "Very much so. I try to find something written in their pages, and I can't seem to spark any ideas!"

Thinking about it, she asked, "How about I give you a hand, and you can help me in return?" His eyes lit up, "You would?"

She nodded, "Only if you agree to help me." He shook her hand in delight, "You have a deal, miss!" She looks over at what he wrote, "What is this meant to be about?"

He pointed up a finger as he said, "It is about the legend of a tyrant king who once ruled this world, you know."

Looking at the sketches, she froze; the king looked a lot like the one back at home, "Is this a fictional story based on this legend?" He nodded proudly, "Sure is."

Taking the feathered pen and dipping it in the inkwell, she wrote where he left off, "This may help." He read over her notes and rubbed his chin, "Yes, that just may work!" He shook her hand again, "Thank you! Thank you!"

Feeling weird in the arm, she said, "Uh, you're welcome." As he was busy being overjoyed, she tapped his shoulder, "You do remember that deal we made." He opened his arms in grand excitement, "But of course!"

He twisted the candlestick. An opening in the wall turns his desk around. He waved, "Hurry now, before the wall closes!" She hopped in the gap where they shuffled their way through. He pointed to the round opening in the wall, "You stand there."

She stood inside as he wandered over to the levers and mumbled, "It must be this one." He pulled the lever, and a gramophone appeared, playing music, "No, no." He shook his head and tried again, pulling the next one. A wall opened, revealing a large bookcase, "Ah." He pulled down the last lever. The circle under her feet pushed up.

He watched his machine work, making a revving noise, "Good luck to you! I do hope you find what you're looking for!"

She crouched, "You're not coming?!" He shook his head, cleaning his glasses, "I'm afraid not! I have a lot of work to finish here!" He waved his arms, "It's been a pleasure, miss!"

The circle spun around and around, reaching to the top. The toad returned to his desk, now able to finish his story of the tyrant king.

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