The Mind

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Prologue

Prologue

Prologue

 

Euri Hakinochi, a young woman of 20 years, sat upon the Tuxedo Sofa in the Ten’Aino living room, sighing as she relaxed, lonely. She was surrounded by various empty couches, chairs, and a host of other unoccupied furniture. Euri put her feet on top of the Zen table and stretched. Her black shirt ruffled slightly as her blue jeans slid up on her. Her denim jacket had been tailored nicely to suit her well, and so she was glad of its warmth in the cold room. She tilted her head back and stared at the ceiling as her brown curls fell down around the sides of her face.

 

“I hate being alone,” she said out loud to herself, her voice echoing off the walls. Her bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade was lightly held in her hand in such a way that if someone were to come in, she could quickly hide it beneath the sofa cushions. With her free hand, she rubbed her eyes, wiping tears away.

 

“What’s wrong with me?”

 

It was unusually quiet in the living room, but that was to be expected at four o’clock in the morning. Euri could have been sleeping at her new home, lying beside her husband Haak, and dreaming of peaceful and happy times, but she wasn’t able to. Her thoughts troubled her. It was too… stuffy, she had said to herself. As a matter of fact, she felt that the entire house was too crowded, too warm, so she left to go to Ten’Aino - her home away from home.

 

She sighed, closing her eyes, and dove into her mind to see what everyone else was up to, leaving the Pumpkin in her place.

 

~

 

Euri walked into the center of the large, almost semi-circular room. The rounded walls constantly swirled around in a plethora of blues and silvers. One hallway led to the exit. In the middle of the room was a rather comfortable sofa, facing the only straight wall. This wall was the CurrentEuri’s eyes, so this is where the VariantEuri’s were able to view everything that the MainEuri did. Euri faced the couch, her back to the Window of the World, seeing ten doors and a hallway before her. There were five doors on the left of the hallway, and five more doors on the right.

 

Euri sat on the couch and stared up at the swirling ceiling. Memories played across the ceiling as she remembered them, both recent and older ones. Arguments with loved ones, crying in the Hakinochi living room when everyone else was asleep, the way she brought attention to herself to make her and others happy. Euri’s eyes filled with tears as she watched scenes of her getting abused by her drunken father, her mother overdosing on sleeping pills, and her slut of a sister running out of the house into the safety of some guy. Euri grimaced as she watched how she was almost raped by her ex-best friend Amade. She shut her eyes and switched to a different, less painful memory: The Serene Dream House in all its glory.

She remembered how she first walked past it, staring at the bright lights and warm looking house. Meeting Miss Julianne for the first time, and then, eventually, receiving the nickname of Bonnie Inochi for her quiet and cute demeanor as she helped clean house. She watched how she was lured into the safety and comfort of Miss Julianne’s bedroom on the cold winter nights. She watched how she was deceived and tricked into the pornography industry for a very short time. Thankfully, it was for only one movie before she escaped, shaken and scared.

 

She closed her eyes and shut off the memories which played above her. She knew quite clearly what would happen next: her mad dash to end her life in an icy, raging river that traveled beneath the nearest bridge. How, instead of dying from either drowning or hypothermia, she awoke as the sailor senshi of ice and snow, the satellite senshi of Europa. Euri breathed out angrily and stopped the memories that played before her by thinking of something else. Since her own way of distracting and cheering herself up wasn’t of much use, she decided to see what the others could do for her. Euri got off the couch, wiping her tears away and approached the first door on the left.

 


Chaptah 1

Chaptah One

Chaptah One

 

 

Approaching the door, she saw the same designs and things which always adorned the front of this particular door. Every door had its own personal style. This one had scraps of old parchment, each with hand written, nonsensical poems, crude drawings of creatures that stretched the imagination, and a golden stopwatch. It glistened, causing everything surrounding it to seem even older and more faded than they already were.

Euri knew to be careful when entering this room. She leaned forward and pressed her ear to the door to see if she could hear anything in the room. She heard crying.

 

“Alice?”

 

The crying abruptly stopped and Euri stepped back from the door, fearful for what was about to come. The door opened just enough so that Euri could see who was inside, and hardly anything else besides them.

 

“What do you want?” The twenty two year old AliceEuri asked grimly, her brown eyes reddened from the crying.

 

She stared down at Euri, her brown eyes flashing coldly. AliceEuri’s straight, brown hair elegantly fell down around her face, framing it to make it look even more serious. Her hands rested limply on the door, her disheveled and blood-stained dress and apron are coming into view.

“Can I come in? I heard you were crying, and, well, I thought maybe you needed some cheering up.”

 

Alice blinked and stood there for a moment, staring at the girl as she pondered how to answer Euri’s question. She scowled and sighed, opening the door fully to let Euri in.

 

“Thank you,” Euri said and walked into Alice’s room. She had only gone into the room once before, and that was when Alice was first moving in. Back then, it was a barren room with only a single bed in it. Euri had tried to help Alice become more comfortable, but she was just quickly pushed out of the room. Now, however, the room was different from before. The left half of the room had walls which were painted a dark green color and the lush carpet was a deep, dark maroon. A desk stood against one wall while a closet was by another. A lone chair sat at the desk. The right half of the room was different again. The walls were padded white and there was a window that was covered in bars, and which looked into a void of swirling nothingness. Euri blinked and paused for a moment.

 

“Where, um, should I sit?” she asked, looking at Alice.

 

Alice gestured to the chair and walked over to her bed, sitting down on it and looking up at the cracked ceiling above her. Alice lowered her head to watch Euri take the seat across from her and leaned over, resting her arms on her legs. She brushed some dust off of her dress and waited as Euri continued looking around the room.

“That’s the portal to Wonderland, right Alice?” Alice looked up and over to where Euri was pointing. A glowing, swirling blue vortex was on the wall where both halves of the room met.

“Yeah, it is. I was just in there a while before you came in, actually.” Alice sighed, turning her gaze back to Euri. “It just wasn’t enough today. Ruthlessly killing all those Card Guards didn’t help me relieve my stress. It wasn’t fun anymore. It was pointless. It didn’t help me at all.” Alice looked away from Euri, her hair falling down around her face to cover the tears forming in her eyes.

“Alice…what’s wrong? You know you can tell me anything. I’m always here for you. I’m here for anyone, matter of fact.” Euri scooted her chair closer to Alice, “Please, Alice, tell me what’s bothering you. Please, open up to me.”

 

Alice reached out to Euri and gently rested her hands on Euri’s own. She took a small breath and looked up into Euri’s eyes.

“Alice, you’re crying! I’ve never seen you cry before.” Euri felt heartbroken. Alice refrained from breaking down into a mess, and stated, “I don’t think he loves me.”

 

“Who? John?”

 

Alice sneered, “Do you honestly think that I care about John anymore? He never believed in me. He’s just been trapped in his own little world at that damn hospital.” She sighed, her temper fading, “Euri, I’m afraid Furu doesn’t love me anymore.”

“What? Why? How could you even think such a thing, Alice? Furu adores you!”

Alice angrily let go of Euri, crossing her arms in front of her, “No, he doesn’t. He’s always playing around with other women. We had this argument the other day, right? About how I don’t want him touching other women, you know? Yet he thinks that he’s in the right about it, and there’s really not much I could do about it.” Alice paused to compose herself again, while Euri wore a concerned expression. “Please, do continue.”

“Well, basically, I told him that I didn’t care. I told him to do whatever the hell he wants, and that I didn’t care. But… but… Euri! I DO care!” Alice reached out to Euri, but stopped midway, lowering her clenched fists to her lap. “He’s always having so much with other women. You see him laugh and have fun all the time, don’t you?” Alice glared at the young woman before her. “It’s all YOUR fault that he’s distancing himself from me!” Alice quickly stood up from the bed, advancing towards Euri menacingly. “There was this one time when we laid on his bed and he confided in me that he liked you. That he had had a huge crush on you for the longest of times.” Alice grabbed Euri by the collar of her shirt, lifting her up from the chair, “It’s because of you, isn’t it! You’re the one who’s been trying to take Furu away from me! “

Alice ignored Euri’s cries of protest and wrapped her hands around the smaller girls’ throat, lifting her up from the floor. “It’s your fault. You and that damn Silver child.” Alice squeezed harder, causing Euri’s face to become flushed from the lack of oxygen, “I know how he looks at you. Does he dare think that I wouldn’t find out about his escapades?” Alice began trembling with rage, Euri’s eyes beginning to roll up in her head, her grip on Alice’s arms loosening.

“Furu… hates me. Euri, he hates me! Damnit, why does he hate me??” Alice yelled out as she threw Euri across the floor, causing the girl to bang her head off the door. Euri’s lungs burned as they filled themselves with air once more. She lay there, completely still as the color of her face slowly returned to normal.

Alice glared down at Euri, who was currently gagging and coughing as air returned to her lungs, rubbing her throat to try and ease the pain of the bruise marks already forming. “Get out of here, you damn jade.” Alice turned her back to Euri, the tears streaming down her face, and she clenched her hand tightly around the hilt of her Vorpal Blade. “Leave this place before I kill you.”

Euri struggled to get to her feet, using the doorknob for support, and managed to open the door. “Alice…”

“Get out!” Alice screamed as she whirled around and heaved her Vorpal Blade at Euri’s head.

Euri managed to dodge the knife and quickly left the room, the door locking behind her. She sat on the floor, her back against the wall. The door to Alice’s room was on her right side. As Euri closed her eyes, trying to relax, she leaned her head over to hear what was coming from Alice’s room. Euri frowned unhappily as she heard the all too familiar cackle of Alice’s psychotic laughter. The sound was harsh, painful even - like nails against a blackboard.

Saddened by Alice’s obvious descent into insanity for the night, Euri rose to her feet and slowly walked to the next door. “Let’s hope this one isn’t as painful.”

 


Chaptah 2

Chaptah Two

Chaptah Two

 

 

Euri approached the door which, she knew would be covered with trinkets a world apart from that of Alice’s door. She could see the photographs in the middle of the door. Small pebbles outlined the doorframe in a simple, cute design. Dark fabric was pinned to the door, bordering the two framed pictures that had caught Euri’s attention. One was of a handsome young man with a foolish grin on his face, sitting atop of a hillside looking down on to small village below, and the other was of an old, rusted pail, covered with dust and long forgotten by the side of a wall.

Euri heard nothing as she leaned her ear against the door, so she knocked instead, calling out, “Jill? You there?”

The shuffle of footsteps was heard, followed by a pause, and then the door slowly opening. Jill, who was about an inch or so taller than the woman at her door, looked at Euri with a blank expression. Her messy, wavy, dark brown hair was pulled back into a low ponytail at the base of her head, with only a few strands escaping, framing her face. She was covered in a black, full body stocking, with a red button down halter top that had matching sleeves, and also a dark blue, ankle length skirt.

Jill gazed at Euri with blank, pupil-less, dark brown, almost black eyes. “Yes, Euri, I’m here. What brings you here?”

“Well, I was wondering how you were doing,” Euri replied timidly. Jill tilted her head slightly and then turned around, giving Euri space to enter. “You may come in.”

Euri walked through the doorway to find herself in a very old-fashioned bedroom. The floor was wooden and the walls were a grey color. She looked around and saw a wooden dress with a cracked mirror leaning against the wall above it. The bed nearby was neatly made with comforters. The large dusty window had grey laced curtains hanging down across it, partially obscuring the view of the house directly across the street outside. As Euri strode over to get a better look out of the window, she glanced down to see old, crumpled up, blood-stained bandages. “Jill…”

“Would you like to go outside, Euri?” Jill asked as she stood behind Euri, still at the door. “The view from the hilltop is simply lovely.”

Euri pulled her gaze away from the bandages to look at Jill, “Sure. It’s probably a lot prettier than the view from here.”

Jill stood there for a moment, obviously not getting the joke, and turned to open the door leading to the rest of her house. As Jill walked out, Euri sighed and quickly followed the taller girl. Down a flight of stairs, passing through a rather dusty living room, they arrived outside the front door. While walking down the garden path, Euri turned her gaze back at the large, aged, haunted-looking house. Its dark stone seemed to become an unnerving black in the shadows of the old, looming trees that surrounded it. The dusty, cobweb-ridden windows with their black shutters seemed almost like eyes with cataracts. Euri shuddered and hurried after Jill to the sidewalk.

The two of them made their way down the street, passing many houses until they arrived at the Village Square. After noticing Euri’s quizzical expression and quick glances at their surroundings, Jill asked, “Yes?”

“Oh! Um, I was just wondering something.” Euri paused, a finger to her lips as she wondered how to phrase the next question. “Is there…. Are we the only people here, Jill?” Jill nodded, causing Euri to blink in surprise. “Wha? Why? Alice’s place is always filled with creatures and people and things. Why is yours so…empty?”

Jill sighed as she leaned on the stocks in the center of the village square. “Euri, Alice has her own place. She can do what she likes with it. Have whatever creatures from her memories live in it.” Jill turned to her left, looking at a sizeable hill behind a stone wall and gate, with a lone, ancient well perched at the top of it. “Her reason for having her memory create Wonderland is so she can help train to save her niece Morgan. I, however,” she turned to look back at Euri with cold eyes, “have no need for other people. I choose not to bring back those that have hurt me. But I accept the truth of the death of the one that I loved. I don’t try to create a fake world, where Jack and I would be living in happily. My world is where I am the most comfortable.” Jill sighed and made off towards the hill, making her way to unlock the gate. “Follow me.”

Euri pouted slightly, annoyed, but she followed the gloomy girl to the entrance. As she passed through the gate, she noticed something glinting out of the corner of her eye. She stopped, turned her head, and saw that it was an old pail. She mused to herself, thinking that just maybe it was the same one from the picture on Jill’s door. “Hey, Jill!”

Jill turned around from having begun her ascent up the hill. “Yes?” she asked as she looked down at her, an impassive expression on her face. Euri pointed to the dusty, long forgotten pail, and asked, “Don’t you need this?” Jill responded with, “No, Euri, I don’t need a pail,” and promptly continued climbing up the hill.

Euri pursed her lips slightly in confusion, and then just simply shrugged it off. She walked from the blood-stained cobblestones to the dark green grass ahead of her, finally arriving at the top to see Jill sitting beside the well. Jill gestured to a rock which jutted out of the side of the ground, “Please. Have a seat.” Euri nodded and sat down carefully on the rock, fearful that it might fall, sending her tumbling to her doom.

“Don’t worry, Euri,” Jill said as she looked out towards the village. Euri took the opportunity to look at Jill, studying the way she fingered the black ring on her left hand finger. “Jill? If you don’t mind me prying, um, why’s your ring black?” Jill frowned slightly and then sighed, holding up her hand so Euri could see the ring better. “All the girls of this village were given silver rings at birth, to wear upon their fingers as a sign of their virginity,” she smiled slightly, “Mine, however, I willingly gave to Jack. He deserved it.” Jill dropped her hand back down to her lap, silent. Euri looked at Jill quizzically, “But that doesn’t really answer my que—,” she was interrupted with Jill’s next question. “Do you know our song?” Euri paused for a moment, thinking. “Whose song?” she asked Jill, who responded, “Jack and mine, of course.”

“Oh well, of course I do. Every child back home knows the song. Want me to recite it for you?” Jill nodded, so Euri sat up straight, cleared her throat, and began reciting the famous nursery rhyme:

‘Jack and Jill went up a hill,

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down,

And broke his crown,

And Jill came tumbling after.’

Euri smiled cheerfully, proud that she knew it as well as she did, and clasped her hands on her lap as she looked at Jill and waited for her reaction. “I’m right, right?” Jill sat there, absentmindedly fiddling with her ring. “You were close, Euri. Relax and I’ll tell you the real version.” Euri nodded, her face serious, and she leaned in to listen to Jill.

 

‘Jack and Jill

Go up the hill

To fetch a pail of water;

Jack’s a handsome preacher’s son

And Jill’s a drunkard’s daughter!’

 

Euri’s eyes widened and she bit her lip, watching as Jill’s face darkened as she continued singing her version of the song.

 

‘Jill grips her fists

And cuts her wrists

Because her father beats her;

One day she will

Grow up to be

Just like her whorish mother!’

 

Euri’s eyes started to fill will tears as Jill continued singing. She wanted to stop Jill from continuing, but she was fearful of the woman’s anger.

 

‘Jack and Jill

Go up the hill

To fetch a pail of water;

She’ll go to hell anyway

So, why’d he even bother!’

 

Jill looked into Euri’s teary eyes with those of her own, filled with tears of anger and hatred. “You just had to save me, didn’t you, Euri. You just somehow inexplicably managed to prevent me from ending my life. You just happened to be at the very bottom of this hill, just when I was about to snap my neck,” she laughed coldly, the laughter not reaching her eyes, “I had already gone through breaking my leg and popping my shoulder out on my way down, but no!” She rose to her feet, her hands clenched tightly at her sides, “You just had to catch me before I died. You saved me right before my life was taken away.” Euri stood up on the smooth, flat rock, stepping back from Jill, who had a murderous look on her face. “Jill, I’m…I’m sorry. I thought that you’d be happier if you were with me.”

“That’s so like you, Euri. You’re so innocent and spend so much time caring for others. You think that joining you is the be all and end all. It’s obvious why Alice joined you. Her body was gone, turned into ashes. The only remaining part of her was her soul in that damn gold pocket watch. She had nowhere to go.” Jill glared at Euri, tears streaming down her face. “I had someplace to go, Euri. It was with Jack. We were supposed to be together until the end!” Jill sobbed angrily, and quickly advanced towards Euri.

“Jill, wait! Please, I’m sorry!” Euri tried to explain as she backed away from Jill, not realizing that she had run out of rock until it was too late. Euri’s right foot felt nothing as her entire body started falling backwards. Jill simply watched as Euri tried regaining her balance, frantically waving her arms around, to no avail. Jill managed to snap out of her daze as Euri screamed an ear-shattering scream. Jill ran towards the slope of the hill as Euri had already begun her descent.

“No! Not like this!” Jill yelled as she quickly ran and slid down the hill after Euri, speeding up every time she heard another one of Euri’s cries of pain. Jill reached her hand out as she got closer and closer, finally managing to grab onto Euri’s shirt and prevent the two of them from falling to their doom on the rocks below. As Jill cradled Euri in her arms, the only sounds that could be heard was Euri’s sobs and the cold wind blowing past them.

“Euri, I’m so sorry. I’m so incredibly sorry.” Jill lifted Euri in her arms and slowly walked down the hill, careful not to worsen any of Euri’s injuries.

 

 

On the outside world, PumpkinEuri had formed a rather deep cut on her head.

 

 

Jill quickly carried Euri back to her home. The echo of her footsteps off the empty buildings around her, her ragged breathing, and Euri’s quiet sniffles were the only sounds disturbing the silence as Jill ran. Up the walkway to her house they went. They went past the rooms with the dusty old furniture, and up the stairs into Jill’s bedroom. There, Jill slowly lowered Euri onto her bed, and went over to her dresser drawers to search for any clean bandages.

It was only until that moment did Jill look down at herself. Her hands, her chest, her whole front was covered in blood. She grabbed some bandages and turned back around, going to Euri’s side, searching for her wounds and injuries. “Euri, where does it hurt?”

Euri opened her eyes from where she lay on the bed, her face and hair streaked with sweat. She gulped slightly, “My… my shoulder… and my elbow,” she gasped slightly in pain, “My chest hurts most…”

Jill nodded, placing the clean bandages near Euri’s head to keep them from getting stained with blood too soon. Gently placing her hand under Euri’s back, she lifted the girl up into a sitting position and tried peeling away her blood matted jacket. A hiss of pain from Euri drew Jill’s attention to Euri’s right elbow. It was swollen and quickly turning a dark shade of purple, along with the fact that several bones seemed to be out of place. “Euri, try moving your elbow,” Jill demanded. Euri tried, lifting it about an inch from the bed before crying out in pain, her elbow dislocated.

Jill bit her lip, “Euri, I’m sorry but I have to leave you for a moment. Please, hang in there for me.” After giving Euri a look over once more, she quickly left the comfort of her room to knock on another door in the hallway - Cinderella’s. It was simply adorned with a brass nameplate, bearing the names Cinderella and Prince Charming, with a border of ivy leaves surrounding the frame. Jill knew to keep her voice down, knowing that if any of the VariantEuris heard, it would only bring about chaos. She knocked quickly and softly, “Cinderella! Open up!”

She waited, biting her lip anxiously, and the door opened to reveal Cinderella in her hospital garb. Her light green apron was covered in dried blood and miscellaneous body fluids. Her long, hazelnut crimped hair was tied up in a bun, leaving only a few strands free from its hair tie prison. She gazed down at Jill, her frame of 5’ 9” towered her over all the other VariantEuri’s, causing her serious demeanor to be almost menacing. “Yes?” she asked calmly, her no-nonsense attitude quickly coming through in her tone.

“Euri’s in trouble!”

 


Chaptah 3

Chaptah Three

Chaptah Three

 

 

Cinderella moved quickly from her home to Jill’s, pausing in the doorway, surveying what was inside. She hurried over to the bed, ignoring the unused bandages, and bent down, gently lifting Euri up into her arms with ease. “Jill, go tell Christian to prepare for a live one.” As she turned around to head out, she saw Jill standing there, shocked. Cinderella scowled, “If you’re not going to help me, get out of the way.” Jill snapped to her senses and blushed furiously, stepping to the side to let Cinderella pass. She glared at the taller girl as she left the room, slamming the door behind her as she went. “Damn her.”

“Christian!” Cinderella called out as she kicked open the door, entering a long, dimly lit hallway. The pale beige rose-patterned wallpaper was peeling away from the walls. Cinderella quickly ran down the hallway, carrying the groaning young woman in her arms. She turned a corner, passing a modest dining room, careful not to bump Euri into any corners or doorways. At long last she came upon a room down another dark hallway beyond a set of double doors. “We have a live one!” Cinderella shouted and barged into the room, which reeked of embalming fluid.

Prince Christian Charming, who really wasn’t a prince, lifted his head up from the operating table. His hand, which held a scalpel, was hovering in mid-air above a pale corpse. He set it down on the table, a look of worry on his face, and pushed his saggy blonde hair to the side, no longer hiding his bright blue eyes. “Cindy, you know we don’t operate on live people. This is a mortuary, you know.” He scowled at her as she shoved the corpse onto the floor to place the barely conscious Euri on the table.

“Cinderella,” Christian began as the woman started to carefully cut off Euri’s black shirt to get it out of the way, “Why couldn’t she go to the hospital down the road? Why’s she so special that you brought her here? Who is she, Cinderella?”

The tall woman glanced up from checking Euri’s bare skin for marks to look at Christian, “She’s an old friend of mine. Now stop asking questions and help me fix her up.” Christian sighed. “I don’t do well with live people, Cindy. I’m sorry but you’re on your own for this one, dear.” He shook his head and left the operating room, knowing full well that he wouldn’t be sleeping in their bed for the next week or so.

Cinderella quickly surmised that there was nothing wrong with the lower half of Euri’s body. She figured that Euri’s unconscious state was from shock, stress, and exhaustion, not to mention a little pain. Euri’s elbow however, was dislocated. Quickly, she popped it back in place and wrapped up her arm in bandages, her eyes scanning over Euri’s chest to the gash in the younger girl’s left shoulder which traveled down a towards her chest. As Cinderella took a closer look, she realized that along with the bloody gash, probably caused by a sharp rock, Euri’s shoulder had been dislocated as well. Before putting Euri’s shoulder back together, she quickly and neatly cleaned up the blood from her chest. “A much better sight,” she murmured to herself. She carefully held Euri’s arm and snapped her shoulder back into place with an odd pop, causing Euri to cry out slightly, jarring her back to reality. “This’ll only take a moment, Euri, so shut your eyes and bite your lip. Oh, and try not to scream too loudly.” Euri looked up at Cindrella quizzically through hazy eyes. A sudden, sharp pain started filling her chest, she looked down to see the tall woman stitching up the long gash. Euri clenched her teeth tightly and shut her eyes, waiting for it to be over.

“There you go. You look much better now.” Euri tried sitting up, and failed - she was still groggy. “Relax, Euri. You’ve been through a lot, though nothing too major to be overly concerned with.” Cinderella calmly helped Euri sit up, “You bleed a lot more than you should, you know. That’s probably because you’re just Euri right now. You’re nobody else.” Euri nodded and got down from the table with Cinderella’s steady hold on her. “My shirt…it was one of my favorites,” Euri stated unhappily.

“Well, we can easily fix that, dear.” Cinderella pulled off her medical garb, revealing a flowing, dark red, dress with a trimming of silver to decorate it, and tossed the uniform into the disposal bin. “I’ll wash your jacket for you, so no need to worry about that. And, unfortunately, since your shirt is beyond repair, I’ll just have to give you a new one. Come with me, please.”

Euri blinked and nodded, grabbing her blood stained jacket to cover her front, and the two of them walked out of the room. “So Euri. I normally don’t ask my patients why they’ve come to me and that’s usually for two reasons. One, they’re already dead, and two, I already know.” Euri looked at Cinderella incredulously and asked, “Was that a joke?” Cinderella only responded with a small smile as they continued walking through the quiet house. “Ah, here we are,” the taller woman said as they arrived at a varnished wooden door. As the two of them entered, Euri gasped slightly at what she saw.

“This place is so pretty!” Euri exclaimed as she rushed into the bedroom. Her eyes were wide as she gazed at the trinkets which lined the dresser and mantle over the fireplace. The wallpaper was decorated with beautiful roses and petals, all of different shades. They seemed to radiate out from the bed, bright colors at first and then ending in the darker hue by the fireplace, which when lit, would cover that section of the room in a warm, orange glow. The lights above gave the room a rather rosy red glow to the entire room. Euri seemed awe-struck.

“Ne, Cinderella, I didn’t know you liked roses so much,” she turned around, noticing all the pictures on the wall, “Who’s the woman with the red hair?” Euri asked as she pointed to a portrait which was hanging nearby.

“That’s Cassandra. You could say that she’s my… god mother.” Cinderella smirked slightly, “Now, go check out that chest of drawers and pick out a shirt. I’m going to go check up on Margaret Anne.” Euri nodded and waved as Cinderella left the room to check on her year old baby girl. She rummaged through clothes, looking for a shirt to wear. Most had shades of red and orange, colors she didn’t like much (although Haak swore by them), so she was overjoyed when she found a blue shirt.

Pulling it on, she admired herself in the full length mirror that was on the wall next to the dresser. She pouted slightly as she tried pulling it down past her hips, and sighed at her failure. She was content with how well it fitted her, although it didn’t hide the bandage that was on her recently stitched chest all too well, but it’d have to do. She liked how shiny the blue on the shirt looked, and even though the sleeves were three-quarter length, they did look rather nice on her. She absolutely adored the silver trim and small bow on the front. Euri didn’t know whether to stay there or leave, so she poked her head out of the room, looking down the long hallways. “What, is this place made up only of hallways?”

Euri slowly ambled on down the next hallway, her hands in her pockets as she looked at the pictures on the walls as she passed by. She turned a corner , hearing voices coming from a nearby room. As she got closer, she could hear hushed whispers coming from within. Her back against the wall, she slowly sidled towards the door, leaning in so she could peer around the doorway to see what lay inside. Apparently, it was a child’s room. The walls were lined with shelves which overflowed with stuffed toy animals and creatures of all sorts, not to mention dolls of various shapes and sizes. In the center of the room was a small bed, with a young child sleeping on it. The baby girl’s dirty brown hair was messy, her curls flowing over her pillow and stuffed moose plushie. It was a cute sight. Amongst the dressers and closets resting against the strawberry patterned wallpaper, Euri could see a chair occupied by two people. Thankfully Cinderella, who was sitting on Christian’s lap, hadn’t seen Euri yet. Euri quietly leaned her head in to get a better idea of what they were saying.

 

“Dear, I was worried that you didn’t know what you were doing, that’s all,” Christian said as he held his wife in his arms. The moonlight from the window poured softly in, falling on them gently. Cinderella nodded, leaning against her loved one, “It was an emergency, Prince. If I had brought her to the hospital, they would’ve asked too many questions.”

Christian’s eye twitched slightly, “Cindy, dear, you know that I don’t like you calling me by my first name. Honestly, what was my mother thinking when she named me Prince Christian?” He sighed as Cinderella smiled, giggling softly, and he smirked, moving his head to her neck, nibbling it playfully.

“Stop that!” Cinderella said, still smiling, taking his hand in her own and placing it on her chest. She leaned in to kiss him. The two of them sat like that for a while, simply enjoying one another’s touch. Euri sighed wistfully as she watched.

“What was that?” Christian asked as he took his hand out from beneath Cinderella’s gown. They looked over to see Euri leaning against the doorframe, her blushes hidden in the dim light. “Euri! I completely forgot that you were still here, I’m sorry.” Cinderella exclaimed not too loudly, fearing that she’d wake her daughter.

Cinderella got up from Christian’s lap, leaving him clearly frustrated at being unable to continue. He scowled as Euri and Cinderella left the room, leaving him alone to his thoughts of what he’d do if he ever got his hands on Euri’s corpse.

“I’m terribly sorry, Euri,” Cinderella told the smaller girl as they walked down a hallway. “I went in to check on Margaret Anne, and Christian was already there, and we started talking, and, well, you know, one thing led to another…” Cinderella trailed off, her face flushed from embarrassment, amongst other things, and she looked at Euri to see what she had to say. “Well… um…” Euri coughed, “I don’t really know what to say. I was looking to see where you had gone, and, well, I guess I found you.” The both of them avoided one the other’s gaze, continuing through the house.

“I know!” Cinderella exclaimed as she turned to the young woman beside her, “Would you like some tea, Euri? Or perhaps you’d like something to eat?” Euri looked up at the still-blushing Cinderella for a moment and then smiled, “Oh sure, thanks. Yeah, tea sounds nice right about now.” Cinderella smiled, her nerves fading, and so she led Euri to the dining room, her air of superiority restored once more. “Have a seat and I’ll be with you in a moment,” Cinderella told Euri before entering the kitchen.

As Cinderella left the room, Euri sighed in relief. The tension between them had finally eased, allowing Euri a golden opportunity to look around the room. Seated at the mahogany dining table in a surprisingly comfortable wooden chair, she leaned back to get a better view of what surrounded her. On the walls were various pictures of Cinderella, Christian, and their baby daughter Margaret Anne. Euri smiled, thinking of Silver, her own “daughter”, to put it simply. She soon grew tired of looking at the pictures and various statues hanging on the wall, so she merely contented herself with staring up at the chandelier, her vision blurring from staring at the many lights. A clatter brought her attention back to the table, and there was Cinderella setting down a tea tray, filled with… well, tea.

Cinderella handed Euri a filled cup and sat down across from her with one of her own. “Tell me, Euri. What brought you to me in such a condition?” She leaned in, her face serious, and continued, “What did Jill do to you? Did she beat you just like how her father used to beat you? I’m sure she did,” she paused, sipping her drink, “The girl is sick, you know. She’s positively sick in the head. I honestly don’t know why you saved her. The wretched thing should’ve died on the spot.”

“….” Euri sat there, her hand clenched around her tea cup as she tried not to lose her temper. “For your information, Cinderella, I merely slipped and fell. That’s all. Jill did nothing to hurt me in any way.” The other woman scoffed in disbelief, “A likely story, Euri. I highly doubt she did nothing to cause you to come to harm.” She sipped her rose tea, oblivious to Euri’s rising anger. “And you know what?” Cinderella continued, “Anyone as low class as Jill shouldn’t be allowed to take residence here with you, Euri. It’s simply disgusting how you let such vile vermin live here.”

Euri looked up at Cinderella from her tea cup, her voice icy, yet polite as she valiantly tried to hide her anger, “Two questions for you, dear. One: What do you make of the other residents of this home?” Euri waited for Cinderella’s response, calmly sipping her tea. “The others? You mean all the strays you picked up?” Cinderella leaned back in her chair, her elegant dress still ruffled from her previous escapade with her husband, “Alice is insane. She’s an evil, psychotic bitch who doesn’t care for anything except for her own meager life. She’s… disturbing. Unfit to exist. Now, Wendy is a woman one can depend on. She’s a bit on the soft side, though. It’s rather obvious how easily manipulated she can be. She’s your average woman, basically.” Cinderella paused to pour herself more tea, oblivious to the vein throbbing in Euri’s head. After taking another sip of her tea, she continued, “My Pumpkin, of course, was a rather odd accident. I’m glad that it’s here, but, still, it’s weird. Not much more I can say about it, really. Now we get to that Kirby thing.” She looked at Euri incredulously, “What were you thinking? How did you even get such a creature like that? Honestly, it baffles the mind, that one. It’s just this… pink… ball of cuteness,” she shuddered, “No matter, though. If you want creepy, though, you need only Mr. Burns. Honestly, woman, you took it upon yourself to save one of the greediest of people in Springfield and what did it get you? A freak of nature, that’s what. Honestly, I’m glad that door’s locked up. Why don’t you just get rid of it and let that empty room be used by someone more, you know, sophisticated.”

Euri quietly poured herself some more tea as Cinderella began talking about two of her newly recruited residents, her hands shaking slightly in anger as she put the tea pot back down. “Now that ninja of yours. I can see where she’s coming from, that comedic angle of hers, but really. She’s so immature, that one. It’s sickening to be even remotely connected to such a brat. Speaking of annoyances, have you seen that Pirate lately? Ugh, it’s so obvious how she tries copying me. If you take a look at her, you’ll see how sophisticated and civilized she pretends to be. I know for a fact that she’s a barbaric savage, you know. Barely has her wits about her.” Cinderella took a pause to stare into Euri’s eyes, her expression one of suspicion, “Who’s in the tenth door, Euri? Who’s so important that you won’t let any of us go near her?” Euri simply looked back and avoided Cinderella’s question.

“My other question for you is this, dear girl. Do you remember how you came to join me here with the others?” Euri watched as the expression on Cinderella’s face turned from one of suspicion to one of puzzled concentration. “No, I can’t really recall how Christian and I came to live here. I suppose that you know and that you’re going to tell me, right?” Euri nodded as a cold smile formed on her face. “During my many, many, travels, I came to your country of residence and was walking from your town to another. It was a rather gloomy Sunday morning and you and your wonderful husband were taking your usual Sunday morning carriage ride. I saw the both of you barreling down the road, heading in my direction, blissfully unaware of the ravine down below on your left.” Cinderella’s normally rosy face grew pale as Euri continued, “Your carriage slipped on a patch of ice and veered off the road and down into the ravine. I followed, transforming into Europa, and checked to see if you two were okay. Christian died from being crushed beneath the carriage. Luckily enough, you were thrown from the carriage and collided into a tree. You were badly disfigured, Cinderella. You were bleeding and wounded terribly. I did the only thing I could do and took you into me. For the first few weeks you were here, you slept. Eventually you woke up and you believed that the world which surrounded you was real. You’re living in a fake world, dear girl. Christian is dead and you’re all alone, only living your daily life in false memories.”

A silence lingered in the room. “I don’t believe you. You’re lying. Everything that spews forth from your mouth is a lie!” Cinderella cried.

“Yet this is coming from a woman who feels that everyone around her is insignificant. You say you loathe and hate people who’re weaker than yourself, but what you must realize is that you’re the weakest person here.”

“Shut up!” Cinderella yelled as she jumped up, her chair flying back from her as she glared at the smaller woman from across the table.

Euri calmly stood up from her chair, keeping her eyes fixed on Cinderella in a cold and steady gaze, “You’re the only person who truly believed that what you lived in was real. Everyone else knows that their rooms are merely fabrications of their doing.” She was prevented from continuing, and barely dodged the tea pot thrown at her.

“Get out of here, you despicable wench. Your lies aren’t appreciated here! Go on, get out!” She threw her cup and saucer at Euri, who was steadily creeping towards the door, “I never want to see your pathetic face here ever again!” Cinderella yelled out in her rage.

Euri just shook her head and quietly said, “You poor, disillusioned girl. You truly are one to be pitied.” With these words, Euri left the kitchen to head towards to the exit Cinderella’s home. As she walked away, she could hear Cinderella’s cries of anguish and sadness. As she neared the door, she saw Christian coming down another hallway. She stopped and waited until he stood next to her. “What happened? I heard yelling. What was going on between you two?”

Euri simply responded by placing her hand on his shoulder, “I pity you, Prince. Go to your wife now. She needs your comfort.” Christian gave her a perplexed look and turned around, hurrying towards the kitchen.

 

With that, Euri left to continue her quest for happiness amongst her other guests. This time, the world of Never Land was her destination.