My Ranking Points
Chapter Twenty-Five: Hero and Villain
Hurrying through the Blue Forest with Ches, Ace, and Alisha on her heels, Cass searched ahead of her for any sign of Tiana. Nothing.
“Don’t worry,” Ace said from behind her. “She’ll have to go up the long way. If we take the shortcut, we can still beat her.”
“No, we can’t. The scroll mentioned the secret path to the caves, remember? She’ll know,” Cass said.
“How did she know about the scroll?” Alisha asked. “How did she know I had it?”
“I don’t know, but whatever she wants with it can’t be good,” Ace said. “She’s not the same girl that she used to be. I don’t know what that school did to her, but it was not good.”
“I doubt it was the school,” Ches said. “I find it rather enjoyable. Granted, the food is terrible, but everything else is fantastic. You’d like it, Cass.”
“I bet I would,” agreed Cass. She led them to the hidden path Ace had discovered and began hiking up it. They reached the top and burst through the trees.
Tiana was kneeling before the smallest cave, holding the scroll in her left hand and reaching her right hand into the tiny cave with her fingerglow lit.
“Tiana, stop!” Cass yelled. The other girl ignored them.
“No!” Cass cried, tackling Tiana.
Both girls vanished, leaving Ches, Ace, and Alisha alone on the cliffs.
Cass appeared in the Jabberwocky’s cave in a burst of white light. Tiana shoved her away with surprising force, and Cass fell and hit her head on a rock. The cave started spinning around her, and then she blacked out.
When she woke, Tiana was walking around the sleeping Jabberwocky. Cass tried to stand, but the cave started spinning again and she was forced to stay down.
Tiana finished circling around the Jabberwock and stood in front of it, tapping her lit finger on her lip. She considered the beast for a minute, then shot her white glow at it. A harness appeared on the Jabberwock. The beast ****** awake, but Tiana was already climbing onto its back.
The Jabberwocky roared and tried to shake her off, but she clung to it firmly.
“You want your revenge?” she cooed to the monster. “You never should have been locked up like this. Together, we will get our revenge. We will destroy Wonderland.”
“Tiana, stop!” Cass yelled, pushing herself to her feet. The world spun and she grabbed onto the rocky wall before she could fall over.
“Not likely,” Tiana retorted. “I’m going to destroy Wonderland for all you’ve done to me.”
“But Wonderland is your home! What about your family?” Cass cried, trying desperately to stop her.
Tiana laughed coldly. “Family doesn’t leave family to rot in a filthy school like my mother and brother did. I have no family anymore.”
“Ace was trying to find another way to get you out of there! He never gave up on you,” Cass told her.
“We’ve been here for weeks,” Tia replied. “Ace wasn’t trying very hard, if what you say is true. And we wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t stolen my mother’s necklace. We wouldn’t have all been together in the Tum Tum Grove that day.”
Cass was about to argue and say they probably would have been taken either way, when something else Tiana said caught her attention.
“The necklace! It’s her powers doing this to you! Tiana, you don’t have to be evil! You can fight it!” Cass exclaimed.
“Fight it? The way I see it, you’re the villain who took my place and stole my brother’s heart,” Tiana said. “I’m just the hero who will destroy you and everything you love. You will suffer, and I will relish every second of it.”
“You can’t destroy everything I love,” Cass argued, “because you would never hurt your brother.”
“I won’t hurt him,” Tiana vowed, “but I’m sure you’re plenty capable of doing that on your own. You’ll try to stop me, and along the way you’ll lose Ace.”
“You can’t do this,” Cass said, half pleading.
“Oh, yes I can. Goodbye, princess,” Tiana said. She shot her fingerglow at the ceiling of the cave, blasting it away in a burst of white light. The Jabberwock took off, carrying Tiana off into the horizon.
“Tiana!” Cass screamed after her. She watched as the girl faded into the distance. Collapsing against the wall, Cass put a hand to her throbbing head and took several deep breaths.
She stayed that way for a while, but finally pushed herself off the wall. It was time to face her friends. Walking over to the little transport hole, Cass stuck her finger in the hole and lit her fingerglow, appearing back outside the cave.
“Cass!” Ace hurried to her, grabbing her by the shoulders. “What happened? Are you okay? Where’s Tia?”
“She’s bleeding,” Ches said, stepping up beside Ace. He touched the wound on her head and Cass winced.
“What happened?” Ace asked worriedly as he helped her sit down on a rock.
“Tiana,” Cass said. “She broke out the Jabberwock and she said she would destroy Wonderland.”
“What? Why?” Alisha asked.
“She said she wants to make me suffer,” Cass said. “She blames me for her getting into the School for Evil.”
“But it wasn’t your fault,” Alisha protested.
Cass shrugged. “She thinks it is. And she must have found a way to control the Jabberwock, but I still don’t know how she knew Alisha had the scroll.”
“We’ll figure it out,” Ace assured. “But first, we have to stop Tiana from destroying Wonderland.”
“We need a rabbit hole,” Cass said weakly.
“But rabbit holes are secret. Only rabbits can find them,” Ches said.
“Rabbits… and Alice,” Cass said, looking at Alisha.
“I can’t- Mother only found one because she followed the White Rabbit,” Alisha said.
“Yes, but we know that the opening in this world was near her home,” Cass reminded. “Where did she live before she decided to stay in Wonderland?”
“I think- I think she lived in Maidenvale,” Alisha said.
“Then we’ll start there,” Ches said. “Tiana will not destroy our home.”
Cass nodded. “Let’s get going.”
Ches pushed her back down when she tried to stand. “We need to do something about your head first,” he said.
Cass nodded. “Alisha? Can you do that spell we found?”
Alisha shook her head. “No. We decided we wouldn’t use it ever again; it’s too painful.”
“Alisha, it’s my choice. We don’t have time to waste arguing. If you won’t do it, I will, though I don’t trust my magic in my present condition,” Cass warned.
“Fine,” Alisha agreed begrudgingly. “I’ll do it.”
Lighting her glow, Alisha pointed her finger at Cass’s head. She cast the spell and a blinding pain shot through Cass’s head. Cass winced, but after a moment it was gone and her head was no longer bleeding.
“Thanks,” Cass said. “Now let’s go.”
Ches helped her up. “Want to make this fast?” he asked.
“Please,” Cass answered, clinging to his hand. She reached out with her other hand and took Ace’s hand. Ches grabbed Alisha and they vanished, reappearing on the border of Maidenvale.
“I don’t think I like teleportation,” Alisha said, grimacing.
Ches grinned. “Let’s go find your mother’s old home.”
Alisha nodded and took the lead, doing her best to remember her mother’s description of home. The others followed.
“Don’t worry,” Ches whispered in Cass’s ear, noticing her tenseness. “We won’t let anything happen to Wonderland.”
Cass could only smile grimly and hope he was right.