Home > The Mad King (The Dark Kings #1)

The Mad King (The Dark Kings #1)
Author: Jovee Winters

Chapter 1


Forward: Galeta the Pink

A mess. That’s what this is. One giant, enormous, never-before-heard-of quandary. And the worst of it is, it’s all my fault.

Look, I have to be bold. Brave. Fearless. All the things I’ve never been to fix this kettle of fish we now find ourselves in, but the truth is I’m not sure how to solve it, or whether I even can.

Everything’s changed. Magic has altered. Even the landscape has shifted. Places that once were are now different. They’re still there but no longer the same.

Everything is topsy-turvy, and I don’t know how to make sense of this. It’s been a week since Harpy took the magic from me. Since the world I once knew was no more.

And nothing at all is what I thought.

At first I thought time had altered, but I quickly realized that not every one of Danika’s couples were affected by this transformation.

Though many of Dani’s Bad Five are altered.

The Wolf and his beloved Heartsong have been separated. And worse still, I can find neither one of them. It’s as though they’ve simply vanished into the ether, as though they’d never been at all. The only proof of their ever having existed is the stony presence of their son still trapped in the hidden realm Calypso and Aphrodite fashioned for him along with Rayale—the Pied Piper—during the games.

And speaking of the elemental goddess Calypso, disaster doesn’t even begin to describe what’s happened to both her and Hades.

Their case would be the most tragic to me, considering how many other lives are affected by the loss of them, but in truth, there is one loss far greater than all the rest.

Wonderland is no more.

The madcap, beautiful realm is now nothing more than a mundane woodland full of mundane flowers and mundane animals. The insanity is almost entirely all gone. Flowers no longer sing. The March Hare is little more than a fluffy, brown-furred bunny with only an occasional lapse into lunacy. Trouser-and-tie-wearing skinks and stunks no longer wander the woods quoting Frost as they drink their tea. Even Leonard, Hatter’s longtime chef and beloved mouse, is naught but a chittering rodent in search of grains and nuts.

Only Hatter owns magic, and even so it is very, very little. Enough to occasionally fashion a bit of whimsy to please Other Alice’s avarice, but that is it.

My fear is that once the magic’s gone, can Hatter ever be saved? Can the fairy tales be saved? The ramifications what it would mean to lose Wonderland is too great a thought to bear. Magic is vital to the institution of Kingdom itself.

Every thread of everyday life is woven by it. To lose its magic would be to lose the very heart of our world.

Only now have I realized that the very beating epicenter of Kingdom starts right there. The tales and so many of the stories bloomed from that madness. To bring it back, I must somehow make the Hatter remember, for he is the very soul of that realm. And so now I have no choice but to journey and do the impossible. I must make Hatter fall in love with his Alice—his real Alice—again.

But Other Alice is in the way, and I’m not even certain whether Hatter’s true Alice is still alive, or for that matter was born at all. With her great-grandmother now a part of Kingdom, I have my doubts that our Alice was ever created.

I wish I understood why the Creator allowed this nightmare to happen. Why taking that seed of darkness from me caused all this chaos. I can only hope that in time I’ll learn why It saved me at all, knowing how disastrous the outcome would be to everyone else.

No matter what happens to me through all this though, I’m determined to right this sinking ship.

I’m a godmother; this is exactly what my kind does. But nothing at all is right with this new world. And I’m quite certain that no fairy godmother has ever before faced the challenges in front of me now.

I will fix this.

I will fix all this.

Somehow.

I hope.

Oh, Goddess, I hope.

So I guess there is only one way to start this tale.

Once.

Upon.

Another.

Time...

~Galeta the Pink, one of the thirteen keepers of the Tales

Chapter 2

Alice

Before the BOOM

Rolling over, I grunted. Gripping the pillow and sheets, tearing at the thin fabric with nails that could almost rival claws. Lost in the surreal reality of a dream that felt more alive than imaginary.

Rip.

I froze in place with panic.

Dreams. Nightmares. All of it is flooding through me.

A swirl of colors. Of chaos. Noise.

Screams.

Cries.

Whimpers.

Begging.

Pleading.

Families being ripped apart. Children vanishing. Lovers no longer knowing the names of their beloved. Utter and total bedlam.

A ripping. A tearing asunder. Then darkness. Lost to me forever. Never the same again. Never the same.

I screamed, shooting up in bed and clutching the sheets to my sweaty chest as I stared with unseeing eyes at the walls of our bedroom—Hatter’s and mine.

I’d come to this strange, madcap world so long ago that my memories of Earth were vague, wispy recollections. This place, this strangely glorious place, was my home. And the thought of my dream ever coming true, it terrified me. Caused my heart to race, my pulse to throb on the back of my tongue, fear to grip me in its icy claws.

Hatter was beside me in a minute, gripping my shoulders. In moments the lights flickered on, but our bed was a garden and our lights the soft blue glow of luminous mushroom caps.

A cool breeze licked at my body, cooling my heated flesh instantly. I shivered, heart still racing violently inside my chest.

He gripped my shoulders in his strong, capable hands, turning me to face him, those devilish eyes of his so beautiful even in their worry. “Again?” he asked roughly, rubbing my shoulder with his thumb.

I trembled, sliding my eyes shut as I shook my head. “Something’s coming, Hatter. Something awful. Something that will destroy us. I feel it. I know it. I—”

“I believe you,” he said instantly, then dragged me against his chest and hugged me tight as my fingers dug into his nude back. His nose was in my hair, inhaling my scent.

It’s what he did when he was nervous. And I knew he was, because every muscle in his body trembled.

For the past three weeks, I’d suffered terrible nightmares. And at first I’d shrugged them off as merely the by-product of an overactive imagination—the madness of Wonderland, something I was normally immune to.

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