The Cheshire cat stepped out of the little house and locked the door as per the rabbit’s request. He stepped out onto the porch and sat. His tail wrapped around him. Then he concentrated and vanished.
“What will it be then?”
“Tea please.” “Tea will do us fine.” “And well.” “Yes Earl Gray!” “Chamomile!” “Mint!”
“Enough!” The Roadscholar cried out in frustration from the other room.
The Cheshire Cat suddenly appeared.
“Cat.” “Cheshire Cat.” “He’s here.” “The great Cheshire Cat.” “The wondrous Cheshire…”
“Shut up!” The Roadscholar appeared with three cups of steaming tea. “I thought you might be coming.” He said. He set the tray down at the table where they had been playing their game. There were only two chairs. He made a gesture with his hands over the floor and a large tree stump sprang out of the ground. “Please sit.” He poured three cups of tea and to one he added enough bark and dirt so as to make the concoction thick and slushy with mud.
“I don’t know what to do now.” The Cheshire Cat said, taking his cup.
Both the Roadscholar and the old man smiled at each other as they took their cups.
“Don’t you?” The Roadscholar asked.
The old man opened his mouth to speak, but a look from his brother stopped him.
“I find I know now why I locked my brother away. Those voices will be the death of me.”
“Did he always do that?” The Cheshire Cat asked.
The Roadscholar stopped drinking, leaving a brown mud mustache which absorbed into his face, and thought for a moment, “I really don’t remember.”
The Cheshire Cat looked down at the stump he was sitting on. “The land is listening to you again.”
The Roadscholar smiled to the old man who returned his gaze. “For the moment.”
From up above there was a buzzing. “Hail friends calloh callay.” Frob yelled as he dropped down to the table. “My dear Cheshire Cat,” he called, folding his wings back and taking a bow. “It has been quite an honor adventuring with you.”
“What happened to the others?” The Cheshire Cat asked.
“Well it seemed the passage you made scattered everyone to places where they would be most safe. We made it out fine and well.” He turned his head nodding to the empty air around him.
“No, your others. The others.”
“Oh,” he looked at the cat like he was crazy, glancing again at the air around him and then seemed to realize… “Yes. Well, it seems that once the tales were told of my traveling with you and of being the first to meet you. Well now I am somewhat famous myself.” He raised his head in honor. “Once I put the call to arms out they came from as far away as Der Rousan Hatch and Blanchguard Grove. Everyone came to fight. It was brilliant. Thank you for the adventure.” The Cheshire Cat grinned, his wide toothed grin and Frob blushed. His face turned solemn. “And, I am sorry about the Jack.”
The Cheshire Cat nodded, his grin fading.
“You might not have seen the last of him my cat.” The Roadscholar said.
“Nor the Ace of Spades.” “No.” “Not for certain.” “Not set in stone.” “Or steel.” “Or brick.” “Or…”
“SHUT UP!” The Roadscholar said to his brother.
“The Jabberwock is now the terror of the Tulgey Wood, but there are no walls and the Saedi are free.” The Cheshire Cat said. “The land didn’t want him dead.”
“No it needs both, but it is more work for you. As you may have noticed there are more of you. You won’t be dying again my friend, until the land wishes to let you be. The places in the mountains and beyond haven’t been named nor the sea. I neglected that, but Wonderland is always changing and this is only one aspect of Wonderland. Good name by the way. Popularopinion only has influence. Rarely will it override you.” The Roadscholar’s cup dropped and shattered on the table spilling muddy tea all over. His hand had crumbled to nothing. “Oh my, here it is.”
Frob turned to the Roadscholar and screamed in terror.
The old man with no name looked up fearfully. “I’m scared brother. Frightened.” “Terrified.” “To death.”
The Roadscholar smiled at him as the voices went on. “Me too.” His arms were gone now and his chest and face were following fast. “I’m sorry for locking you away like that brother.” He smiled and his jaw and cheeks cracked and were gone. His eyes turned to the Cheshire Cat and seemed to say something, but he no longer had a mouth and a moment later there was nothing save two cups of tea, one whole and one shattered leaving the Cheshire Cat beside Frob.
“What happened to them?”
“I don’t know… but, Frob do you think the flying insects can do me a favor?”
“Absolutely my lord.” He bowed.
“Stop that. There is a house beside the Tulgey Wood, a woman and two children. Be careful of the children! Do you think the swarm could help her rebuild it?”
“For you it would be an honor.” He bowed, changed shape into a streamlined wasp and turned to the air around him, “Come on vespers. Let us get the others.” He looked to the sky and was gone.