Her: The one simply known as “Her” slowly trudged downstairs from the room she’d been staying in. She hunched over, one hand clutching at her stomach. Taking a seat at the bar, she muttered an order of vanilla tea to Harry. After her bizarre chance encounter with one Mearo Valencia the other night, she had been cooped up in her room – haunted by a disturbing dream that led to her not allowing herself to go back to sleep. Strange, as she had come to realize it was the first time she could remember dreaming at all. Unfortunately, she was now exhausted and somewhat fearful. It didn’t help that she could SWEAR her own shadow was staring at her at night… on top of that, her hunt for any sort of food that could actually satisfy her hunger had been fruitless. It’d been at least a couple of weeks now. That hunger only added to the strain on her form, which already lacked. She was starting to worry – could this shadowy body maintain itself without proper nutrition? If not, then how much longer could she go?
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: There was a poof at the bar, Cheshire appearing once more wearing rather common clothes. Always in some sort of button up and nice jacket. Today seemed a bit mor casual than his standard victorian attire. “HARRY!” He shouted, perched on a stool like a gargoyle. “Harry! Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry! Ha-REEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” He shouted, excitement and confusion in those emerald eyes of his. Opening his mouth wide, it almost seemed as though he were about to shout something else at the top of his lungs before a simple. “Tea, please, my normal blend. No! Wait. I changed my mind. Honeysuckle. NOPE, im sorry. Chamomile. WAIT.” He put his finger up. Head turned to the side with nose up as if here were some sort of critic. “Breakfast Chai with half and half instead of milk and two tablespoons of brown sugar.” Yes, yes that was it. That was what he wanted. “Also, could ah please have an english muffin with butter and blackberry jam? Mah tumtum’s got the rumblies and i need snacks.”
Her: She groaned and gripped her head, the headache she’d had for so long now that she was now rather numb to it acting up thanks to the noise coming out of the newcomer’s gob. Even worse was THAT sensation again. The feeling of familiarity she got around certain people. It wasn’t as strong as what she had felt a few nights ago; just the regular sensation. Yet she was so worn out, she wasn’t sure she wanted to go seek potential memories. Not after that dream… Still, she turned her head to look eventually. “… Many teas?” In her sleepy daze, she interpreted Arch’s indecisiveness as him just ordering a bunch of different teas.
Goddess of Tea – Bergamot: From somewhere, there was the faint sound of someone giggling. Was it because she could sense her new friend’s order and it strengthened her? Or was it something else? .. Yes.
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: Hm?” He turned his head to look at the strange woman. Cocking his head to the left as he looked at her. “Oh, im sorry.” He said in a lower tone of voice. “I didn’t realize that some of us were still waking up. My bad.” He cleared his throat, looking back over to Harry and rubbing the back of his head. “Uh, yeah. With so many different varieties it makes it hard to choose sometimes. Especially for the morning after a… well, lets just say it was a rough night.” The muffins came first, Harry, already done with Cheshire’s shit, sliding it over to him as an Imp brought him his tea. Made to perfection, as always. “Thank you kindly.” He smiled, bringing the cup up to his lips and sniffing deep. “I enjoy this in the name of the tea goddess and in the name of good tea itself.” He whispered, hearing the giggling. A sip was made. His shoulders relaxing as the hot brew filled his stomach and warmed his body. “Ah.” He sighed in content. “Nothing like a good cup in the morning to burn the sleep from your muscles and clear the garbley gook from your eyes.”
Her: She took a sip of her tea as well, though she couldn’t share that same satisfaction. It was warm and familiar, but it did nothing to make her feel any better physically. “Nnn… Rough night. Yes.” She nodded, trying to avoid thoughts of her nightmare. That just made her think of it more. Great. Sighing, she set down her drink and hugged her shoulders a bit, shivering. What the hell, she thought. At this point, she might as well ask. “Sorry, I know this is a little strange, but would you tell me your name?”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: His name? He shot her a look before setting the tea glass down. “Well, if you must know.” Standing up proudly with a foot on the counter and fist raised high into the air, he proclaimed his name to the heavens. “I am the great Christiano Jose Arturio Salazar! Master of Spain’s conquistadors and defender of the Church of the squibbly dibbly danger noodle!” His voice shifted to a spanish accent. Mandolins played in quick strums to punctuate his sentences. “Eh, no, not really.” He slowly stepped down and took his seat like a proper person. “The name’s Archibald Cheshire. You can call me Chesh if you’d like.
Her: She blankly stared at him through his little dramatic stint. Christiano Jose Arturio Salazar didn’t sound even faintly fam-… oh. He was jesting. The second name, though, did catch her attention. Her head was already flooded with blurry images trying to become coherent, yet a new thought was trying to push its way through. Something about snacks? Unfortunately, since he had already said something about snacks earlier, she couldn’t tell if the memory was significant or not. “Chesh.” She turned away, looking at her dark reflection in the surface of her tea. “This may sound weird, but I think I used to know you somehow… I – .. I lost my memories. My name. Even my body. But you seem familiar.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: Wait. Lost the memories? Lost body? That could mean any number of things. Any number of people. The memory of the tea goddess, may she forever be preserved, rang through his ears as he looked to the one dressed in dark. Yes, he saw it now. It wasn’t just a big goth blanket. They were actually robes. “You knew me?” He questioned, head tilting again as he lifted a muffin up to his lips. “Well, do you remember anything at all? Any vague fragments? Ideas? Concepts that come to mind when you see me?” A bite was taken. A bit of jam and butter stuck to the very corner of his mouth as he chewed. “If I seem familiar, that means that there is some memory that remains. Otherwise, I’d be another stranger.”
Her: Her head dipped a bit. It hurt so much… “The only thing that comes to mind right now is the word ‘snacks’.” She couldn’t help but let out a scoff of a laugh at that. This was pointless, wasn’t it? “But you just said that word earlier, so that probably doesn’t mean anything.” Pointless. Pointless. Pointless. Her fingers twitched, causing her tea cup to shake. The shadows that formed her feet swirled ever so slightly. She was getting frustrated with herself.
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: Snacks? Shadows? He squinted. “No…” He muttered in almost disbelief. There was only ONE person that such things all coincided with. Flashbacks to the great Snack War of 2018 flashed through his mind. Coming home to find all of his snacks gone. Sneaking into the casino passed the horrors within in retaliation to steal snacks back in retaliation. The death, the MURDER, the over all wackiness of it only for it to be ended with a delivery of snacks as appeasement and peace treaty. “The snack war…” He muttered. “Does The Snack War mean anything to you? Or… teeth? Lots and lots of teeth?”
Her: Her twitching froze. A vivid image flashed in her mind. Teeth.. a horrific face that stretched and contorted in an impossible fashion, with endless rows of razor sharp teeth. What was THAT? That didn’t just seem familiar. It seemed terribly important; as important as the presence of Mearo had felt. A sudden stabbing pain shot through her head, making her grimace and grasp for it, knocking her tea over. “Nggh!” She was shaking again, more violently this time. “T… teeth!?”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “Y-yeah? Like… a lot of them. Like… more than 12.” He put his hands out, motioning to demonstrate the size. Keeping it leveled at roughly five foot three. “Normally attached to creatures yay high? Piercing red eyes? Dressed in maid outfits. Have an unending love of Ham?”
Her: His words only made the image more vivid. She could hear it. The shrieks. The screams. The desperate cries. The… fweeping? Something that had been so intricately a part of what was once her identity. The shadows at her feet were growing more restless, their movement now properly noticeable. “M-m-maids…”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: Seems that the memories were enough. Yes, this reaction to the ideas that he had presented, the description of the maids, the snack war, the shadows and the dramatics of the black cloak? It could only be one person. Leaning back in his stool, he picked up his glass of tea and cupped it between his hands. “Yes, they were rather interesting creatures. Eldritch beings that ate and consumed without end. Incredibly difficult to kill simply due to the sheer number of them that there were. Some were fleshy, others were mechanical, but the most powerful, the most terrifying, was their leader. The head maid, Fwufikins. Taller than the rest, smaller too. It was the head of their hive and answered only to the one they referred to as ‘Mistwess'” A sip was taken. Good tea, good times, and a less than light conversation.
Her: Fwufikins. Within her hood, two light gray orbs lit up, like eyes widening in realization, but there was a sudden flash of color. For a mere second, there was a hint of her identity showing through. In the blink of an eye, she was suddenly jerking towards him, reaching to grab at his collar if he didn’t react in time to grip it firmly, orbs glaring at him. It was as if something had snapped in her. Things were coming back. Not everything, but she knew: Those maids… no, THAT maid especially was deathly important to her. She needed to find them. “WHERE. WHERE ARE THEY?”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: As she clutched his collar, he simply offered her a smile, placing his hands on her wrists lightly. This was a gamble he was about to make. It was dangerous given her current state. He had to try though. He had to pull her from this. An old friend was lost and needed his help. What’s more? This wasn’t the kind of issue that he needed magic to solve. For once, it was something simple. Something that only needed words. “I dont know.” He said calmly. As her eyes flared in rage and desperation, his own squinted and flashed with delight. “You’re the one that took them off world, Magicia. You tell me.”
Her: Click. Like the flip of a switch, she suddenly jolted, letting go of him to grab at her head, to scream and writhe. She fell from her seat to the floor, dropped on her knees in agony. The hood fell back as her shadowy form contorted, warping into something different. Her body shrank as the shadows extended from her head in a flowing wave of hair. Nose, mouth, ears all started to take shape. She was remembering what she once looked like… yet the shift seemed to halt there. Her form was still dark and shadowy, but she was more of a distinct being now. She opened her eyes – a piercing toxic purple hue now glowing up at Chesh. Her expression was a mix of stunned relief… and anger. She couldn’t quite grasp what she was feeling. But she was remembering. It was coming back. “… I… That was my name, wasn’t it? I am… Magicia.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “The nightmare queen of The Paracosm, Mistress of The Fwufs, and eater of dreams.” He chuckled, extending a hand to help her up. “Together, we put the pages back in the magic book, sealed with maid flesh, and saved the cosmos.” He sighed. Ah, such happier days, he felt. “Or… something like that. Regardless, your eyes tell me all i need to know. Yes, you are Magicica and i have missed you dearly.” Don’t cry Chesh. It was an emotional moment for him. Though, restrained as he was from showing it. Finally, an old friend returned! Broken, but as twisted as it might be he took comfort in that. In knowing that he wasn’t the only person broken and breaking. Trying desperately to hold onto identity. Misery loves company and all that.
Magicia: Still trembling a bit, she slowly pushed her way onto her feet, only to stare at her hands. This form… it wasn’t complete yet. She could tell. This wasn’t what she looked like before. But now, with what was coming back to her… Yes. She could truly return, in time. Tcch, that stupid reflection was wrong, she thought. She hadn’t been forgotten by everyone. Not yet. “It really is me, huh?” She let out another laughing scoff, smirking. “Nightmare Queen. Paracosm. All of that… I remember now. Heh. I was so high up, so powerful, and yet look at me now. But I remember, so that’s something… and you.” She shook her head in disbelief, laughing more. “I took your stupid snacks, didn’t I!?”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “You did.” He nodded, dropping his hand and placing it on his hips. “And in return, I stole some of yours. Then we agreed to peace. You sent me a monthly package of different snacks, all produced and packaged in Paracosm, and I hired on some of your lovely maids for their security and cleaning services.” How he did miss the maids. “Manor hasn’t been NEARLY as clean since. Teddy’s do their best, but they’re not as OCD about it. The also have a habit of not driving away intruders that come to close so, NPC tourists and all that.”
Magicia: At the mention of the maids, her expression drooped. She looked rather sullen now. “I don’t sense their presence… it used to be everywhere. An underground network of maids devouring and gathering information. I don’t feel them here now.” She was silent for a moment, trying to think. “I don’t know where Paracosm is either. I… when I try to think of it, everything is fuzzy. I think… whatever happened to Paracosm made this happen to me.” Something suddenly dawned on her. Tsubame.They were still planning on heading out to the sea with Her! Tsubame… oh no. Someone else struggling to remember the past. And here she now was with potential answers. Ones she could now remember that she was reluctant to give. “I… I’ll figure that out soon, though. One bit at a time. There’s other things I need to get to in the meantime.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “Well, all I know is that you took them with you when you moved Paracosm. I tried to find you, but you went somewhere I couldn’t follow.” He gave a small frown. “Though, for what it’s worth, it’s good to see you back. Even if in an incomplete form.” He gave a gesture to her. “Things haven’t exactly been all sunshine and rainbows since I returned and… well… i’m just glad to see a familiar face. Or shadow as it were.” A bit of a laugh at that last bit. “Still, the maids have a habit of being summoned by your very presence. I’m sure that once you’ve become complete that they will resurface, ready to eat your enemies and clean your shoes or whatever have you.”
Magicia: “I moved Paracosm?” She frowned, racking her memory for such a thing. It did sound possible, but at the same time… all she could recall was that same darkness and cold that had been haunting her for a while. “I don’t know if I actually moved it or not. But if I did, I must have had a reason for doing so. And I’ll find out what that was. Where everything went.” With a sigh, she crossed her arms. “Anyhow, the feeling I suppose is mutual. Not just to see a familiar face, but to finally recognize it. I suppose I owe you one for helping me get to this state, at least. Whether it was intentional or not. And for the maids, I’ll have to hope that you’re right about that.” She was a bit distracted now. Both worried about Tsu, and desperate to seek out Mearo… now that she remembered her name, she needed to find them. Let them know she was still here. But with that thought, she had a nagging fear; a fear that she had disappointed him by vanishing instead of reaching her potential. Would he even want her back? “And you? You seem so different somehow.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: Ah, there it was. Well, he supposed it was only fair given her current state. “Yeah, well, another death, another crack in the brain.” He snorted, bringing up his knuckles and knocking them against the dome of his head. “Took an ax between the eyes and, well, wasn’t paying attention. So, yeah, another life down. Now I got all these voices screaming at me and judging me for things and all I want to do is eat ice cream, watch romantic comedies and cry. I feel bloated and my ankles wont stop hurting.” He shook his head, feigning tears and sadness. “I just cant control my emotions anymore, you know?”
Magicia: “Sounds like menopause.” She smirked. At least she had a sense of humor, still. “But I do sympathize.” Magicia turned her head and looked towards the door to the tavern, still a bit distracted. “I’m sorry to cut this reunion short, but if I want to continue gathering lost memories, I should probably make sure I can maintain this form. Whatever it is.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “Well, you could always eat some nightmares and the like.” He brought his hand up, finger combing his hair backwards. “Look, mags, i know we weren’t exactly close, but, if you need to feed, I’m kind of in charge of a place now. So, if you need life force and promise not to gorge yourself and kill anyone, you’re more than welcome to sample the platter.” Could have been put smoother but, oh well. “Anyways, just think about it. Can’t miss it. South western end of the North eastern continent. By the mountains where the river bleeds into the ocean. I’ll, uh, have a room made up for you just in case.”
Magicia: That got a bit of a chuckle out of her. She wasn’t going to correct him on the exact methods she used to feed, but was amused by how up front he was about the potential danger she could be; even when offering her a place to be just that. “Hmm. I appreciate it. I’ll take you up on it.” Perhaps through this, they could grow a bit closer than they had previously. However, she already knew in her heart that it’d be hard to trust anyone so openly anymore. One thing she certainly remembered from the past was how trying to play nice with everyone only constantly screwed her and her maids over… She was done with that. Magicia would from this point on do what she needed for herself, not for self proclaimed heroes and gods. “Though if you expect me to return the favor someday, you might have to wait a while.”
Archibald Cheshire, Prince of Nihilheim: “Nah.” He waved his hands. “Consider it a freebie. Old friends and all that.” He snorted. “But you do you for now. Run along and do what you have too. I’ve got my own hunt to attend too. But, it was nice seeing you again.”
Magicia: Magicia nodded, turning away and pulling her hood back up. After all, unless she fed now, she wouldn’t have the energy to quickly travel to that place, nor the time to take the slow route. “Likewise. I hope to meet you again soon.” With that, she slipped out into the streets to go hunt down an unsuspecting individual. One little soul wouldn’t be missed if they suddenly went permanently comatose…