Imagination Part Two: Wonderland Beginnings

Imagine a world of blind people.  They can feel warmth, but not see light.  Days and nights would just be warm times and cool times.  As science on this world advanced, there would be a realization that warmth has a source, the sun, which rises and sets.  A mysterious, invisible disk whose motions control warm times and cool times.

The Earth’s sun provides our world with energy, fueling change and life, but what if Earth has a second, hidden star?  A star whose changes are not effected in space and time, but in higher dimensions?  A star whose radiance, whose glow does not create changes in matter and motion, but changes in consciousness. A physical generator of ideas, a fountainhead of imagination.  An invisible wonderland whose warmth can be felt the most open and gifted, but remains unknown and beyond the understanding of people who are blind to the glow.

Many planets orbit the Sun, and there are many planets bathed in the glow of Wonderland.  What would we do if one planet tried to take the sun’s light and heat for itself?  What if Martians revealed themselves and tried to drain all the sun’s energy leaving the earth cold and dead?  There would be one choice: war.  And this is what happened in Wonderland.

The House of Hearts is the royal family of Wonderland (Queen Theodora, King Tyman, Princesses Rose and Genevieve)

The Hearts were the first to reach Wonderland, and discovered a particular crystal, now known as the Heart Crystal, could be used to channel and control the glow of Wonderland.  The disruption and eventual cessation of the Glowflow led scientists and artists on three other worlds to discover and invade Wonderland.  The Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades struggles for years in a fantastic war of imagination, conjuring creatures out of dream and nightmare.

Eventually, saner heads then the discoverers prevailed and established peace between the creative leaders of the 4 worlds.  A city was established around the Heart Crystal and a keeper of the crystal was selected.  The crystals energy most easily communicated with women, so women were selected as the crystal keepers.  They also functioned as leaders of those who has taken up residence in Wonderland, and eventually became known as Queens of Wonderland. 

Those who wanted to darken the outer worlds and hold all the creative power for themselves in Wonderland continued to plot and scheme and became known as the followers of Dark Imagination.  Those who wanted to protect the Glowflow to the outer worlds became known as the followers of White Imagination.  The 4 Houses, descendants of the most gifted leaders of the 4 Worlds continue to rule Wonderland selecting a queen from amongst themselves. 

Followers of White Imagination believe that ideas are discovered, not invented.  As a result the followers of White Imagination are more passive, and value preservation, compassion, and generosity.  They trust the patterns have a purpose, a good purpose, and prefer to let things work themselves out rather than intervene.  –

They are individualists, but still place great value on tradition as something to be learned from, not imitated.  Communication and society are ways to share pieces of the pattern and anyone can contribute something to deepening and strengthening both understanding and creativity.  You never know where the next good idea will be found.

Dark Imagination derives from the belief that ideas are invented, not discovered.  The followers of Dark Imagination value the power to transform and control, and are aggressive and destructive.  If the universe is just random rearrangements without any special meaning or purpose, then the only meaning or purpose in life is to extend and project your ideas as far and as long as possible.  Conflict, violence, and destruction are valuable tools for identifying the best and most powerful ideas.

Dark Watcher Queens Maelstra and Torvashi spy on Hatter Madigan during his search for Alyss

The Heart Crystal projects the ideas of Wonderlands.  This means the personality and values of the ruling queen are cast into the hearts and minds of the people on the outer worlds.

A queen’s personality can even survive the death of the queen herself.  In between the worlds, somewhere in the Glowflow, ghostly remnants of the queens continue to survive and remember and inspire, reflecting and refracting the glow of crystal into the particular on whose edge they dwell.

These ghostly queens are known as Watchers.  The Watchers of Earth reside in two bubbles in the Glowflow.

The White Imagination Watchers have created what appears to be a castle on a forested mountain, with waterfalls and streams flowing out of the peak.  The sky is filled with astronomical images that put the Hubble to shame, nebulas and galaxies, and the worlds with 3 rings all large enough to see.  These radiant objects are the manifestations of the glow from the Heart Crystal.  In the center of the tower, growing out of a pool is a tree of gold and silver whose leaves gather and collect the glow of the Heart Crystal.

When the leaves fall and drift down to mountain, wildflowers spring up where they land.  The tree bears fruit rich with pure imagination, which sustains the queens in their afterlife.  It can also grow weapons and told which the queens can provide to champions, called Walkers who act as their agents on Earth, promoting their values and inventions.  Occasionally, earthlings lost in forests or diving from waterfalls find their way to the mountain. 

The Surveillance of Hatter Madigan by Maelstra and Torvashi knows no end– even during battle

The Dark Watchers dwell in Splinterscape, an island in an underground cavern filled with broken glass.  In the center of the island is a tower of thorns standing above a fiery pit.  The pit draws in pieces of the sea of shards and reforges them into long ribbons of glass that harden and rise and branch out over the island. 

Eventually, their weight becomes too much and the ends break off and return to the sea of shards.  The roof of the cavern is like a geode which thick long colored crystals, glowing with the radiance of the Heart Crystal.  This creative light feeds the tree which bears fruit of pure dark imagination.  The Dark Queens also bestow gifts to their Walkers, although their boons often consume and destroy the recipient.  People in caves, sewers, and tombs sometimes stumble into Splinterscape.

Some White Watchers…

Rory – Short for Aurora, Rory is animated and radiant.  A lover of light, she invented machines to travel to the stars.  Talkative, beautiful, and alert she is a natural leader.

Zephris –  is a collector.  She built a huge library containing an enormous encyclopedia with a list of every invention, discovery, and idea ever conceived.  She also worked to improve education and communication so everyone would be able to access this knowledge.

Neiria – loves to shapeshift and tried to be as many different people as she could.  She inspires people to change their lives into something new and different.

Borea –  was a lover of peace and a queen during a peaceful period in Wonderland’s history.  She created a strong army, a great wall, and many embassies to sustain this peace.  She invented new forms of martial arts which combine meditation to prevent anger and rash decisions with combat skills to ward off and subdue aggressors. 

Siki – A great traditionalist Siki supported bringing back old styles and ways of doing things.  Although new construction suffered some under her rule, many older places were restored and improved. Siki prefers trusting things to work out on their own and waiting to acting.

Genevieve – Murdered by her sister, Genevieve is a careful and thoughtful queen.  A quiet planner and a clear thinker she was able to protect her daughter on Earth from her sister’s murderous rage.

The Conflict between Dark and Light wages on

Some Dark Watchers…

Maelstra – Although she was one of Wonderland’s most beautiful and powerful queens, Maelstra was never satisfied.  Only able to see flaws, she tore down and rebuilt the palace constantly, and destroyed most of her creations in her efforts to improve them.   Although initially a follower of White Imagination, her constant destruction in the pursuit of perfection led her to deeper and deeper Black Imagination.  Eventually, her imagination consumed her own body leaving her a constant flux of incomplete forms and shapes.  Inspiration reflected off Maelstra led to the Kracken in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.  A huge writhing consuming hunger is Jules Verne’s impression of Maelstra.

Torvashi – Among the greatest Warrior Queens, Torvashi led Wonderland into a long series of never-ending wars.  Violent, angry, and competent, she prefers action to thought.  Torvashi invented a new way of processing crystal into a physical enhancement steroid and combined it with genetic engineering to create a perfect warrior race. 

Nadine – Obsessed with ownership, Nadine suffers from never-ending paranoia that someone somewhere was stealing her ideas.  She created a patent police to seek and destroy any creations too similar to her own.  In the end, all she created were ways to prevent and destroy the creations of others.

Dorma – Abandoned by her Prince, Dorma was consumed with grief.  Retreating into sorrow, she created statues, poems, and songs, about her lost love, while her queendom fell into decay.

Gloavine – A queen of exceedingly little imagination, Gloavine was consumed with envy.  She created lengthy and elaborate approval procedures for new inventions and under her rule, Wonderland ground to a halt.

Ferrara – Crafty and manipulative, Ferrara uses her brilliant psychological insight to manipulate and control. Always playing mind games, it is impossible to figure out exactly what she wants, or predict what she will do next.

Crumpet – The queen who ate Wonderland.  Crumpet was a brilliant chef, but she preferred eating to cooking, growing in size until she devoured most of the city.  She is the inspiration for Zombie horror films and the associated late night pizza eating.

Walkers are humans the Watchers use to increase the influence of their shade of imagination on Earth.  Walkers are people of unusual creativity and skill who listen to and obey the voices of the Watchers in exchange for information, inspiration, and items made from the imagination of Wonderland.  Some agents know a great deal about the Watchers of Wonderland, while others know nothing.  Walkers can be used for many purposes, such as eliminating other Watchers, preserving of protecting an idea or art work, inventing something, or communicating a message.

(Based on the works of Lewis Carroll & Frank Beddor)

(Part One)

The Mother of Alyss Heart, Queen Genevieve

For Wonderland’s Queen Genevieve, (White Queen) even the most festive occasions could be clouded by the less savory aspects of governing. Her daughter Alyss (Alice) celebrating a seventh birthday party at Heart Palace was, by contrast, making all economic worries, political concerns, and military threats feel more acute. 

Especially the military threats. 

Unconfirmed reports suggested that Redd (Red Queen) was growing more powerful, in the final stages of outfitting troops for an attack, and Genevieve was no longer sure that her forces could provide adequate defense. 

Needing a moment of solitude, she slipped away to her private rooms, leaving the guests to their entertainments. In a salon filled with overstuffed couches and giant pillows, she studied her reflection in a looking glass. It wasn’t just the political machinations and constant military strategizing that was bothering her. Alyss’s birthday had made her feel old.

Queen Genevieve Heart

She saw lines at the corners of her eyes and framing her mouth. In the not too distant future, Alyss might also find herself prematurely aged by the responsibilities of being a sovereign, although Genevieve hoped not. She wanted to believe that her daughter would handle the crown better than she ever could—she who, at Alyss’s age, and for a good many years after, had never supposed that she would be queen. Her older sister, Rose, was to have ruled Wonderland. And if only Rose—now known as Redd, for her proclivity to bloodshed, hadn’t been so— 

A plume of blue smoke passed between Genevieve and her reflection, interrupting her thoughts. She smelled a familiar spicy-sweet aroma and turned to see a giant blue caterpillar coiled dreamily around his hookah. Ordinarily, Genevieve would have been annoyed to discover anyone in her private sanctuary without having been invited, but this outsize larva wasn’t just anybody.

He was one of Wonderland’s eight caterpillar-oracles who kept watch over the Heart Crystal—the power source for all creation. Whatever passed into the crystal went out into the universe to inspire imaginations in other worlds. An unexpected visit from an oracle was rarely a good thing, but Genevieve wanted to believe that this was one such exception. 

“Your presence is an honor,” she said. “Princess Alyss will be so pleased that you could attend her party.” 

“Ahem hum hum,” grumbled the blue caterpillar, exhaling a cloud of smoke. 

The smoke formed the shape of a butterfly with extended wings, then metamorphosed into a confusion of scenes. Genevieve saw a large cat grooming itself. She saw what looked like a lightning bolt. She saw Redd’s face. Then the smoke again formed the shape of a butterfly, which folded its wings, and Genevieve awoke on a couch with the smell of tobacco in her nostrils. The caterpillar was gone. Her bodyguard Hatter Madigan and a walrus in a tuxedo jacket were standing over her. 

“You must have fainted, madam,” said the walrus. “I will get you some water.” 

The walrus hurried out of the room. The queen remained silent for several moments. 

“The blue caterpillar was here,” she said finally. “I’m not quite sure what he showed me.” 

“I’ll inform General Doppelgänger and the Millinery,” Hatter said. “We’ll be on alert for whatever’s coming.” 

Just once, Queen Genevieve would have liked to relax the watchful vigilance she was forced to maintain every hour of every day to ensure Wonderland’s safety. The caterpillars’ prophecies were always so vague. Sometimes their visions reflected only possibilities, the dark wishes of those who never planned to carry them out. But she couldn’t take a chance, not when it concerned Redd. 

“Make sure not to alarm our guests,” she said. 

It might have been better to end the birthday celebration, however, and had Genevieve lived, she undoubtedly would have scolded herself for not doing so. 

The partygoers were enjoying tea and wondercrumpets in the South Dining Room when a kitten (you might know as the Cheshire Cat) trotted into the room and transformed into a muscled humanoid with a feline head and claws as long and glinting as any blade from Hatter Madigan’s arsenal. The room shook from an explosion, and Redd sashayed in amid a welter of dust and rubble, followed by a mob of rejects from the Wonderland Decks—the platoons of card soldiers that made up a large portion of the queendom’s military.

General Doppelgänger ran behind a curtain and pulled a lever attached to a crank half buried in the floor; the black floor tiles of the room flipped over to reveal a cadre of chessmen—knights, rooks, bishops, pawns—who faced off against the invading card soldiers, blades swinging and bodies falling. 

With a flick of his wrist, Hatter Madigan (the Mad Hatter) flattened his top hat into a series of S-shaped rotary blades, which he sent slicing through the enemy, while Queen Genevieve—out of her chair, sword drawn as soon as she saw The Cat—engaged against Redd’s soldiers two and three at a time, conjuring knives, sabers, and spiked clubs for herself whenever one was knocked from her grip. —

She was always armed with four weapons at once, her imagination swinging two of them, to fend off attacks from behind. If, solely by the power of her imagination, Genevieve could have imagined the invaders dead, piled in a heap in the center of the room—her sister included—she would have. But by imagination alone, nobody could kill a creature that had the will to live.

Which was too bad, because Redd, unharmed in the midst of battle, lifted Princess Alyss out from under a table, held the girl aloft by her hair, and wrinkled her already wrinkled face as if she were clutching some detestable pest.

“Let her go,” Genevieve said, stalling, knowing that Redd wouldn’t. “Please.”

Redd scoffed and spat out words that Genevieve hardly heard, alert for the slightest opportunity to free Alyss, but then Redd conjured a scene—silent, moving phantoms on a screen of red smoke: Genevieve’s husband King Nolan, on his way home from negotiations with neighboring Boarderland, had been ambushed and killed by Redd.

Genevieve lost control of herself. She imagined eighteen dagger-sharp cones into existence and directed them toward Redd; she imagined double-edged spears cartwheeling toward Redd: all of which her sister easily relegated to dust.

Redd had always been the more imaginatively gifted, as Genevieve well knew.


Redd dropped Alyss, who had stabbed her forearm with something on her necklace.

Queen Genevieve and Princess Alyss

Genevieve grabbed her daughter’s hand and ran to her private rooms, knowing that she wouldn’t survive but also that she didn’t need to—not for Wonderland’s sake—if Alyss could be kept alive.

The humanoid feline pounced at them, seeming to come out of nowhere, but before he could swipe them with a single claw— thwip! — he fell to the floor, a blade in his chest.

Hatter Madigan stepped up to the fallen assassin and pulled his top hat blades free of the mortal wound.

“Take Alyss and go,” Genevieve said to him, pointing at a looking glass. “As far away as possible. You must keep the princess safe until she’s old enough to rule. She’s the only chance Wonderland has to survive.” 

Genevieve knelt in front of Alyss. “No matter what happens, I will always be near you, sweetheart. On the other side of the looking glass. And never forget who you are. Do you understand?” 

“I want to stay with you.” 

“I know. I love you.” 

“No! I’m staying!’ 

Alyss threw her arms around her mother. 

A wall crashed down and there stood Redd, a platoon of card soldiers at her back. “Aw, how sweet. Let’s have a group hug,” she said, hardly looking like the hugging type. 

Hatter picked up Alyss and jumped into the looking glass. Genevieve smashed the glass and turned to face Redd, unable to believe it when, in her peripheral vision, she saw The Cat, on the floor with a gaping hole in his chest, open his eyes. His wound healed and he sprang at her. She conjured a white bolt of energy from her imagination and thrust it into him, killing him a second time. 

Redd laughed derisively and pulled the jagged bolt out of The Cat. The bolt turned crimson in her hand, and she slammed it into the floor; dozens of black roses sprouted from the point of impact, their thorny stems wrapping themselves around Genevieve, pricking and binding her. 

“Well, Gen, what can I say?” Redd seethed. “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m tickled to see you go.” 

Pulling the energy bolt out of the floor, she swung it at her sister’s neck. 

Genevieve’s headless body slumped to the floor, her crown rolling along the polished stone tiles like a dropped coin.

The House of Hearts: (from left) Princess Rose Heart, Queen Theodora Heart, King Tyman Heart, and Princess Genevieve

Princesses Genevieve and Rose Heart had once been inseparable, their different temperaments complementing each other. Where Redd was opinionated, undisciplined, and flirtatious, Genevieve was quiet, studious, and proper. Both were intelligent. Both were gifted with powerful imaginations, though Redd’s was stronger, and it required little effort for her to imagine into existence what Genevieve had to regularly practice.

Genevieve naturally looked up to her charismatic older sister. She didn’t agree with everything Rose did, but she often wished to be more like her—freer, publicly confident, treating life as if it were a game she’d already deservedly won.

But Rose was heir to the throne, and as the time for her accession drew nearer, the differences that had once brought the sisters together began to push them apart. She became increasingly arrogant and contemptuous. Her lack of discipline, which had seemed like a cavalier disregard for stuffy conventions, evolved into a general unruliness that included more than just dabbling in illegalities.

Again and again, Genevieve found herself trying to defend her sister’s behavior to their mother, Queen Theodora, (Queen of Wonderland). Again and again, she made excuses for Rose’s non-appearance at royal functions, lying for her sister, saying that Rose was sick in bed when she was actually out with sleazy characters, lolling in some artificial crystal den (an opium den of Wonderland).

She frequently tried talking Rose out of her bad behavior.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t doubt Mother in front of her advisers,” she once said. “It comes off as if you’re questioning the queen’s authority, which many see as undermining it.”

“If she makes a dumb decision, I’m supposed to let her?” Rose had answered. “I should just sit back and be quiet and let her compromise my inheritance? Our inheritance, I should say,

although you won’t have the burden of running the queendom.”

She’s spoiled, Genevieve thought, wondering how Rose came to be that way when she herself wasn’t. Their parents hadn’t been particularly indulgent, had sought to instill in them a reverence for Light Imagination, the principles of which were guided by love, a sense of justice and duty to the well-being of others. Genevieve and her sister had grown up surrounded by wealth and privilege, but Genevieve could not help thinking of those less fortunate, whereas Rose seemed to take wealth, privilege, and authority as her due.

Quietly disappointed in her sister, Genevieve still never expected Rose to be removed from succession. Nor did she long for it. She wasn’t grasping or envious; she had no desire to be queen. Yet Genevieve considered it the responsible thing, appropriate to her title and station, to be schooled in swordplay and all things martial.

Besides, it couldn’t hurt for a woman to know how to defend herself.

So, she trained as warrior queens of earlier generations had done, and exercised her imagination daily, gaining impressive control and nuance in her conjuring’s.

Then things worsened: Rose was pregnant and refused to identify the father.

Embarrassed by such disdain for social norms, for the well-being of a child born out of wedlock, Genevieve was ashamed of her sister. But she felt protective, too; Rose—with child, physically sensitive, hormonally wrought—was at her most vulnerable.

Rose gave birth to a healthy girl, but Queen Theodora, enlisting Genevieve in the subterfuge, convinced her that the baby hadn’t survived. Genevieve, who felt guilty about lying to her sister, hoped that the “loss” of the child would induce Rose to improve her behavior. And it’s possible, though doubtful, that it would have, if Theodora hadn’t done what she did next. Genevieve found out only afterward, Rose raging, her voice echoing throughout the palace. 

The eldest Heart daughter had been removed from succession, replaced by the younger. 

Rose burst into Genevieve’s rooms and accused her of having connived for the crown all along. 

Denying this, Genevieve said, “I want the best for you, Rose. I always have. Do I wish that you’d be less stubborn in your refusal to abide by anyone’s rules but your own? Yes, but—” 

Rose swore vengeance. 

“Your inclination for vengeance is part of the problem,” Genevieve tried, but too late; her sister was stalking out of the rooms. 

She did want the best for Rose and believed that she always would, but all scrap of sisterly love disintegrated after Rose sneaked into Theodora’s bedchamber one night and placed a fatal mushroom on her tongue. 

For the good of the queendom, Genevieve was coronated. Furious, Rose threw off her given name in favor of “Redd,” promising that unbridled bloodshed would splatter the doorstep of every Wonderlander. Both sisters gathered their followers and Wonderland succumbed to civil war, during which Redd lived up to her promise. Genevieve proved victorious only because of the superiority of her army. She banished Redd from the realm, and the daily life of Wonderland returned to what might be called “normal.” 

Queen Genevieve ruled judiciously, guided by the precepts of Light Imagination, but never for a second—and especially not after she gave birth to Alyss—did she forget that dark forces were at work in The Chessboard Desert, where Redd had ensconced herself in a bleak fortress dubbed Mt. Isolation. Sooner or later, Genevieve knew, Redd would attack the queendom, and it would require all of her imaginative powers and then some to ensure its survival… and Alyss’s.