"But wait!" I cried. "I should at least be able to use a map." I curtsied. "Your highness."
Her cheeks reddened and a vein throbbed in her neck. "There are no maps! Strictly forbidden. Whoever gets back here. Wins! Now go!"
Her billowing skirts swirling, the Red Queen disappeared into the forest. I stood, gaping, astonished at all that had taken place. Should I follow her? Or was it a trap? Oh, most certainly. It had to be a trap. The Queen would assume I'd go after her, and then she'd spring some sort of trap on me like a hole covered with brush or something that would delay me for hours. Then she'd claim herself the victor. I knew how people like her worked.
No. I would go the other way. With a straight back and determined stride, I headed in the opposite direction of the queen, into the darkened woods on the other side of the clearing. The path was easy to follow, and for a tiny bit, I felt encouraged. That maybe I had a chance of making it through the labyrinth of her kingdom, of winning. I could rule for a day! Such power that I'd never had before.
I almost started skipping, so light in heart I felt, when I ran into and through a plume of green smoke. It swirled about me, a cloud of mist with a perfumed smell. Within seconds, I felt dizzy and had to sit on a fallen log to rest. Then, I giggled. Well this certainly was a turn of events. A forest had never seemed so amusing to me. The way the sunlight tickled the leaves and the forest floor in a patchwork design. The way the branches waved hello as if they wanted to sip tea and have a nice chat, but twigs can't talk. Can they?