The Alice Tea Club: Part One
Chartreuse the green Acara was sitting at her white coffee table of pink flowers, in her bedroom; with her three best friends: Eilonwy, a Christmas Ixi; Fay, a green Xweetok; and Orfina, a speckled Shoyru.
"So what shall we do today, Chartreuse?" Orfina asked, she was a real lady and always called everyone by their full, proper name. No exceptions.
"I'd like to know why Char is dressed in such fancy clothes," Eilonwy said, she was what her friends called the Bandit Princess; for she was a dainty kind of Ixi, yet also loved to jump in the mud and go on adventures.
"A fancy pink gown and pink sun hat," Fay said, "it's Neovian attire, right?" Fay was a nature-lover, her room was filled with all manner of plants and flowers; and when she spoke it was soft and low, barely above a whisper.
Chartreuse grinned. "Yes, it is. It's from a clothes brand called 'Alice, the Moon Glows Bright.'"
Her friends' heads tilted to one side.
"I thought of the greatest, neatest idea!" Char went on. "I'd like to start a teatime club!"
"Ooh~ I like THAT idea," Fay said, "I already make my own herbal teas."
"Sounds fun," Eilonwy said.
"Yes, indeed," Orfina nodded.
Char clapped her paws. "Yay! But... there is a very important rule... or two. We meet on Sundays – and we all must wear Alice clothes."
"Hm? Alice clothes? What's that?" Eilonwy asked.
Char was happy to answer the question. "It's been around for a few years, now, but I just learned about it and totally fell in love with the style! Do you remember the Tale of Woe?" Her friends all nodded. "When Sophie the Swamp Witch and her brother lifted the curse on the town of Neovia, a certain girl named Alice was finally able to raise her daughter, Mari, properly; sharing her love for tea, reading, and the simple yet elegant days of Old Neovia. So inspired was Mari that she created her own line of clothes which she named after her mother: Alice. And her brand name, 'Alice, the Moon Glows Bright', began to sell at Prigpants & Swolthy. It was only popular with those of Neovia at first, but then it branched out to stores like Uni's Clothing and now lots of different brand names have come out, centered around Neovia's fashion."
"Such as...?" Orfina asked.
"Such as 'Angelpuss-Cute'," Char said. "While 'Alice, the Moon Glows Bright' is refined, 'Angelpuss-Cute is overly sweet and filled with ribbons and bows, like a pampered angelpuss. Then Prigpants & Swolthy decided to bring out their own, called 'Eerie Peace Now', it's rather dark and Gothic. Finally, a rather spooky Aisha, who recently opened an elite shop in an abandoned attic, brought out her own Alice style called 'Isca and the Pirates' – it's one of my favorites, but it's also the most expensive."
"'Isca and the Pirates', huh?" Eilonwy said. "Do you have any pictures of theses clothes?"
Char got out a thick catalog and put in on the table.
"'Neovia & Alice Bible'?" Fay said, reading the name on the catalog.
"It has all the latest brands and what's new," Char said. "As well as the proper hairstyles and accessories to wear; fun comics; Q and As; Alice-related sites to visit – like tearooms and museums – and it even has an index of patterns; for those who can't afford the style, but wish to wear it.
"I really love the Alice fashion and would like to live as a Neovian – if only on Sundays. What do you say, girls?"
Char's friends flipped through the pages of 'Neovia & Alice' and looked at the large pull-out page of patterns.
"I really like the 'Angelpuss-Cute' clothes," Fay said.
"The 'Eerie Peace Now' outfits are awesome," Eilonwy said, the clothesline would look good with her high ponytail of dark hair.
"And the 'Alice, the Moon Glows Bright' brand are very elegant," Orfina said.
Char clapped her paws some more in excitement. "And so...? We agree on an Alice-themed teatime club?"
"We agree!" the three said.
"What shall we call the club?" Orfina asked.
Char brought out four notebooks, all pink and purple; she handed each of her friends one and kept the last for herself. "The Alice Tea Club; simple and elegant, right?"
Fay looked at the notebook cover, which had curvy writing saying 'The Alice Tea Club'; underneath was a pretty picture of a delicate tea set.
"These will be our teatime journals," Char explained, "in them we can write what we like best about the Alice fashion; draw our own Alice designs; make tea and dessert menus; and so on. And each Sunday we can share whatever we wish to from the journals. Okay?"
"Okay!" Eilonwy said. "I can't wait! When's our first club meeting?"
"Ew, must we call it that?" Orfina asked. "I'd prefer to call it simply Alice Tea. "'Meeting' sounds so..."
"Boring?" Eilonwy said.
"Yes, boring." Orfina nodded.
"Very well," Char said, "our first Alice Tea will be held next Sunday, that will give you seven days to get an Alice outfit ready."
"Um..." Fay put a paw up. "All of these are, um, you know, quite expensive. I can't afford an 'Angelpuss-Cute' dress in one week's time."
"That's what the patterns are for, remember?" Char, once more, reached behind her and brought out more handouts. "I copied the patterns for each of you. Make something from them, getting inspiration from the 'Neovia & Alice Bible'. We can do this in baby steps, starting with just a blouse and skirt, or Neovian accessories, to a full-blown Alice set in a month's or so time.
"Now to the actual 'tea' part. I'll make the menu up first, and then we can take turns from there. I noticed we each have our own tea sets," she placed a paw on her Faerie tea set of powder blue porcelain with pink and gold accents, "so I thought we could each bring their own tea set when its their turn to make the menu. Is that all right?"
"My pink Wocky tea set is quite fragile," Fay said. "I'd be afraid to take it out of my home."
"Then we can go to YOUR house when your turn comes, right, Char?" Eilonwy said.
"Why don't we all take turns hosting at our homes?" Orfina suggested. "That way it would be easier to serve the menu piping hot and warm."
"Love it!" Char said. "Okay... any tea and food suggestions? I don't want to serve things that only I like."
"Yes, I can see it now: Illusen tea and Illusen mint-frosted cookies," Eilonwy said, "which I love, but it would definitely get tiresome. I like orange-cream tea and cinnamon spice scones."
"The Crumpetmonger's blueberry scones are divine," Orfina said, "and any tea is fine with me, though I seem to gravitate towards jasmine tea..."
"My favorite are herbal teas," Fay said, "as you can probably guess. And my favorite Crumpetmonger delight are those yummy vanilla cream puffs."
As the week passed, all four friends really delved into the Alice fashion, learning interesting facts: Those outside Neovia had adopted a Neovian lifestyle to go with the fashion; from having tea breaks, to listening to classic piano music, to decorating their homes in Neovian antique furniture.
'Angelpuss-Cute' centered around the doll-like clothes the little Neovian girls wore, and therefore also came out with dolls and cute plushies to hold.
'Alice, the Moon Glows Bright' was a more grown-up look, and had its own line of tea sets, letter sets, and etiquette books.
'Isca and the Pirates' had a little of everything; cute, elegant, punk, and at times dark; with a heavy theme on pirates and the sea. The Aisha who created the brand also brought out purses shaped like treasure chests and ship lanterns.
Finally, 'Eerie Peace Now' had very elegant Gothic clothes for both girls AND boys, with fantastic gowns and parasols for the ladies and dark coats and top hats for the gentlemen.
It was all very overwhelming and Chartreuse's friends began to wonder what was what and what WASN'T.
"...There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about the Alice fashion," Eilonwy said, at the friends' first Alice Tea Club.
They sat around Char's lovely coffee table, which was filled with apple walnut tea sandwiches; cinnamon spice scones; and a pot of Snow Mint tea.
"Yes. I noticed," Orfina said, taking a sip of the refreshing rare tea. "I mentioned it to a few people I know in town and they acted like I was into something scandalous. Hmph! As if." She was wearing a lavender gown with gloves.
"A friend of mine LAUGHED and said the style was absurd – unless you actually live in Neovia," Fay said. She looked very sad, while she nibbled on a tea sandwich; in her 'Angelpuss-Cute' – inspired dress of pink and cream white she had sewed by hand.
"Really?" Char said. "That's odd... it's a fashion style like any other."
Eilonwy, who couldn't decide whether to go with an 'Isca and the Pirates' look or 'Eerie Peace Now' ensemble, had put together a rather casual Alice outfit; with a plain white blouse and a dark skirt that could be labeled as either or of the two brands. "It's the name 'Alice'," she said. "There is a connotation that the style is named after a certain girl that was the main cause of the horrible happenings in Neovia years back."
"But we all know that's poppycock," Orfina said. "A nasty Krawk was behind all that, and his name was definitely not 'Alice'."
"Neopets still think it's silly to wear Neovian-like attire, though," Fay said. "Especially 'Angelpuss-Cute', someone even called it babyish. I kind of feel like... a fool in this, now." She gently fingered the dress she had so lovingly sewed together.
Eilonwy patted Fay reassuringly. "You don't look silly in the least to me, Fay, it totally suits you. I say if you like a certain style, you should wear it. Let Neopets laugh at us. Who cares? I don't. None of us are wearing anything inappropriate, so what's the problem?"
"Here! Here!" Char said, raising her cup of tea. The sudden outburst startled Osiris, Chartreuse's Anubis petpet, who was sleeping peacefully in his Anubis bean bag; looking up he growled "A curse upon you!" and went back to sleep.
The next Alice Tea Club was at Orfina's. The Shoyru was quite rich and lived in a manor of servants and her kind guardian, an elderly Gelert named Nova Wizard.
She owned a wide range of delicate tea sets and filled four different kinds with four different teas: chamomile for Fay; Earl Grey for Eilonwy; Illusen's brand of earthy tea for Chartreuse; and jasmine for herself. Early Sunday morning Orfina traveled to the Crumpetmonger, in Neovia, by wagon to buy blueberry scones; vanilla cream puffs; and tomato basil scones just for that afternoon teatime.
This time the friends talked about tea and admired the teapots and cups Orfina owned. Fay and Char particularly liked the Holiday Flowering teapot that Orfina brewed her jasmine tea in; it was a clear glass pot which allowed you to watch a specially-made packet of tea burst and bloom into something of a flower. The two couldn't stop oohing and awing.
Eilonwy liked an elegant tea service that was a creamy white painted with bright garden flowers.
But there was one tea set that wasn't being used that got all of their attention.
"Is that... a DARIGAN tea set in that cabinet?" Eilonwy asked Orfina. The lady Shoyru wasn't the type to own such a wicked-looking item.
"Hm? Oh! Why, yes; yes it is," Orfina said. "I collect tea sets, and the Darigan one was particularly affordable, so I thought 'Why not?' and got it. I never use it, though. I also have a cursed tea service from the Lost Desert."
"Ooh~" the three awed, with admiration and a tinge of fear....
To be continued...