A Gothic fairy-tale written and illustrated by Jeanette Andromeda
A quick note about this story: I released new pages for this story as a series on my Instagram during the course of October 2020 and have collected the full story into this blog post for easier reading. Also, if you enjoy the artwork, I have made my favorite pages available as prints on my shop. So, without further ado, enjoy!
Alice visits the toy graveyard on a mission to repair the doll her late sister gave as a final gift. She whispers a familiar rhyme along the way.
Broken boys and broken girls, Can find their piece upon the hill. Beneath the tree at full moon's light, The Toy Man rests to hear their plight. If earnest hearts speak true, The Toy Man heals them through and through.
Alice makes her offering and tells the Toy Maker her sister’s story. She tells him that the doll is her last tangible memory to her sister. Alice closes her eyes, hoping beyond hope that some magic still exists in the world. At least, just enough to heal this one doll.
When Alice’s eyes open, she has been transported to an entirely new world.
A small winged beast finds Alice hiding. Alice shares with the Winged One of her offering to the Toy Maker and the Winged One is alarmed, for the 2nd verse to the Maker’s rhyme is a warning…
Wary must the Broken be, For the Toy Man claims all he sees. Each broken thing is his domain. So to find home once again, The broken boys and broken girls, Must claim their piece upon his hill. To claim their choice before dawn's light, Else the Toy Man claims their plight.
The Winged One urges Alice to set forth and retrieve the offering, “For time is swift and though Halloween night is long, the journey to break the bargain is longer.”
“But where, little Winged One, do I look?” Asks Alice, “I know not this land of Death and Stardust.”
The Winged one takes flight and cries out with delight, “Luck may yet turn to your favor, child. Follow the shadowed ones who march past here in the somber parade. When the last step of their dance fades you will find the Seer. Her mysterious eye might pierce the Maker’s veil long enough to guide you.”
Alice follows the somber parade through the winding streets to the home of the Melancholy Circus. In it’s shadow, a small tent bears a sign, “Palms read, fortunes told, Ex-Spouse’s spirits banished.”
Alice finds the Seer embedded in the cosmos of the tiny tent. The Seer searches, but their gaze cannot fully pierce the veil of the Maker’s power. Their gaze did, however, find at the edges of his power, a glimmer of hope.
If Alice is to succeed, she must find the Sun’s Shadow and reunite it with the Smiling Moon. It is at their meeting alone that Alice’s path home will become clear.
A hollow wind stirs the stars around them and the Winged One calls out from the void, “Alice, you must flee! The Guardians have scented your life force and have begun their hunt to find you!”
The Seer’s tent expels Alice with little fan fair back into the world of the undead -which is now filled with howls that echo through the stone beneath her feet.
The Winged One calls to Alice and leads the way through side streets and up stray beams of light. But the Guardians grow nearer and nearer by the second. Alice spots an open door and the two stumble into a crumbling concrete tower.
At the top of the tower a forest blooms with iridescent light. But, even in this serene space, the Gaurdians’ howls can be heard. A small fairy spots Alice hiding among the petunias and takes pity on her, offering a temporary gift to allow her to escape. With a puff and a clap Alice, now dotted with dandelion fluff, is able to fly into the night sky.
Alice and the Winged One drift to the outskirts of the city, finally free of the Gaurdians. Alice shares the Seer’s words but the Winged One is as baffled by them as Alice, “How does one find the Sun’s Shadow in a world of Eternal Night?”
An idea sparks inside Alice, “Would you say the Toy Maker is a king to this land?”
“More than a king! The Maker creates and controls all you see here.”
“Then, where might we find his shadow? For if the Maker is the source of life or… un-life here… Then he is this land’s sun.”
“Oh dear… ” the Winged One replies, “I may actually know of a place we should look… but it is a perilous one to explore.”
The pair make their way to the Maker’s abandoned palace found a the edge of the moon’s reach.
The Winged One shares that a terrible event occurred there eons ago, causing the Maker and his court to flee. Perhaps, his shadow may linger there.
Upon entering the palace courtyard, Alice is drawn to the fountain by a whispered song.
Before the Winged One could stop her, Alice is sucked into the fountain’s rolling abyss.
Inside the abyss Alice confronts the Dying Hunger. It feeds on her sadness- forcing her most painful memories out.
But Alice fights back.
She calls to mind the moments of joy she shared with her sister. The songs they sung, and the stories they told. Her joy poisons the Dying Hunger, forcing it to release her back out into the world.
Alice crawls from the fountain, dripping with memories. But to her surprise, the palace is no longer dark and quiet. Instead it is filled with lights and the echoing strains of music.
She follows the music into the palace and discovers a ball taking place. But something is off about the dancers.
As she gets closer, she sees that their faces are distorted and perverted expressions attempting to be smiles. At the core of each dancer’s transparent form is a small broken toy.
Looking around, Alice spots a figure containing her broken doll. She rushes up a set of stairs to where the figure dances next to a decadent shadowy throne. The dancer containing her doll spins around revealing to Alice the face of her beloved sister, “Lorina!”
Lorina’s strained smile gains a bright gleam of hope as her eyes connect with Alice. But just as Alice gets within reach, her sister is pulled up into the rafters by the strings that were forcing her to dance.
A menacing smile glitters from the Shadow seated upon the throne. It sneers at Alice, “You have made it so far miss Alice, but there is still one task left.” An array of mended toys materializes in front of Alice, “Make your choice, dance the dance, and IF you manage to defeat me, I will fulfill my end of our bargain.”
He draws out a shimmering blade of moonlight and snarls, “Let the dance begin.”
As music swells once more around her, Alice glances over the options in front of her. A wooden sword, a ship in a bottle, a small ball, and a stuffed rabbit. She reaches towards the wooden sword but pauses as something inside the glass bottle makes a frantic “TINK! TINK! TINK!”
Alice grabs the bottle and joins the Shadow’s mad dance.
The Shadow dances through the crowd in graceful deadly twirls. With each timed step he gets closer to Alice, slicing the strings of his couriers along the way. They fall with anguished cries into crumbling piles on the dance floor.
Alice dances away, spinning and trying to keep some distance as she looks at the bottle she grabbed. Confidence straightens her spine and she uncorks the bottle with a flourish.
Wind and rain come rushing out of the bottle, filling the ballroom with a shimmering tempest. With a “POP,” the Winged One escapes from the bottle pulling a ribbon out with him. The Winged One twirls around Alice, placing the ribbon in her hand, “Pull!” He shouts and she obeys.
As Alice pulls the ribbon a glowing orb is drawn out from the bottle, it’s radiant light starts to warm the room.
Now dancing across waves, Alice spins the orb around and around.
The orb grows in warmth and light until it collides with the Shadow. A bright flash blinds Alice and she is lost for a moment, left with no sense of sound or sight or feel.
As the light fades, Alice collapses to the ground dripping with water. She looks up to see the Shadow fading down into the form of a small boy, one not much older than her. The ghosts once controlled like puppets are released from their strings and drift to the ground. Their strained smiles melt into ones of true happiness.
The boy kneels before her and touches the side of her mask, “Thank you.” Alice’s mind slips and her vision fades.
“Please, wake up.”
Alice hears someone calling to her and she wakes up on the Toy Maker’s grave with the broken doll laid out on the dirt before her. The voice calls her once more and Alice looks up to see her sister, alive and well once again.
And so it seemed that there was some magic left in this world, not enough to fix a broken doll but more than enough to heal a broken heart and give two sisters a second chance.
Thank you so much for reading my story. If you would like to read more odd little fairy tales from me in the future, make sure to follow me on your favorite social media platform. ❤