Chapter 7-The First Battle of the Great Hall

"Is she…?"

"Yes, Mama is with her, please hurry!" I quickly put Günter and Tealea in the Toy Cabinet and follow Damiana up the stairs and into my old playroom. Penny is there, growling at Lavender until she sees me. Then, her eyes go soft and I go over to her.

"Penny, this is Lavender and Damiana, they are my friends, so you should treat them nicely. Are you hungry?" she yips quietly and I ask Lavender to bring me some lamb, or whatever is left from the table. "I'm sorry, I should've waited till you were awake to introduce you to them. And I should've fed you earlier!" but Penny rubs her head against my hand, meaning she forgives me.

"Damiana, come with me, its past your bedtime." The girl sighs, but also yawns and follows her mother out of the playroom. A few minutes later, Thyme comes in with a small tray of cubed raw meat and bowl of water.

"You'd best be off to bed, Miss Kyrie. Most of the guests have left." He says as he puts the tray down in front of the fire place.

"I will, after Penny has eaten." Said wolf cub looks at the meat and water and starts to devour the meat. Thyme leaves after Penny is done and takes the tray and bowl away. Then, I realize that she'll need to relieve herself after that big meal. "Do you need to go outside to relieve yourself, Penny?" but she is already asleep. Sighing, I leave, but I leave the door slightly ajar so Penny can come find me when she's ready to go out.

When I am back in my room, I change out of my clothes into my nightgown and even though I don't feel sleepy, I climb into bed. After about half an hour, Sapphire comes in and convinces me to get out of bed so she can unbind my hair. Once that is done, she bids me goodnight and leaves me alone again. I sit on the edge of my bed, covers down so I can climb back in and go to sleep, but my mind is whirring with activity. Günter…that's pronounced 'Gunther' in this Kingdom, I think. In my mind, I picture the story of the Nutcracker named Günter and how he came to be. I wonder why the Mouse King wants Gunther dead, it can't just be because of his tail…that wasn't Gunther's fault, it was the Mouse Queen's! But as I think this, I hear faint music coming from the hallway.

Huh…Why the musicians are practicing at this time of night? When my feet hit the carpet, I grab a pair of stockings and the nearest pair of shoes. After I put them on, I open my door quietly and leave my room to follow the mysterious music. Along the way, I put my chestnut brown hair in two braids, tying them with green ribbons while making as little noise as possible.

I reach the Great Hall, where I expected the musicians to be, but the stage is empty. I must be dreaming. I pinch myself, and then stifle a yelp in my throat. Then I spot the Toy Cabinet, where the music seems to be coming from. As I move towards it, the music seems to become more vibrant with each step, but strangely it doesn't get any louder. I open the Cabinet doors and the music suddenly stops with a special flourish that I've only heard used at the Wool Guild Balls.

"Well, that music was beautiful, but the way it seemed to come from here was weird!" I say this quietly to the dolls in the Cabinet. I then take Gunther out and place him on the vanity desk next to the mirror nearest the Christmas tree. "I'm Kyrie. I am very sorry about what my idiotic brother did to you, Prince Gunther. Joshua can be very…rough with any toy he gets his hands on. I hope…no, I know that my Godfather, Christian Drosselmeier, will fix you." I curtsy to the doll. I look up and there is the sparkle in his eyes again. Before I can ask the doll what that sparkle means, Pavia rubs her body against my legs, making me almost fall on top of her. I catch myself, thankfully without hurting the kitten, and look up at Gunther apologetically. "Forgive me, Your Highness. I can't promise it won't happen again, since in this Manor, I have a kitten and a new pet wolf cub. …huh?" I can almost hear a voice in my head, speaking to me. A male voice, but not too deep.

"It is alright, Miss Kyrie. Would you introduce me to the other dolls and toys in your home?"

"Is that you, Prince Gunther?! And…of course, I'll introduce you to the others in your kingdom!" I get up, reeling a little from what happened, and pick up Tealea from her place in the Toy Cabinet. "This is Tealea, I just got her earlier this night." I make the doll bow to her ruler. After I put her back, I take out my oldest doll, Clariea. "This is Clariea, she's been with me since I was little. She's very wise. And kind when she wants to be, though she doesn't let it show often." I put her back gently and just as gently pick up Ernest, Joshua's only oldest toy soldier left from his first set of soldiers. "This is Ernest, Joshua doesn't play with him anymore, mostly because the poor man is a bit stiff. Too many battles, but he still tries. And his left leg does very silly things." I laugh a little as I move the left leg of the toy. I then put Ernest back on his ledge carefully. "I would let you see the other, newer toy soldiers, but Joshua would get mad at me for even touching his toys." I smile at the Prince of Dolls again.

"Thank you, Miss Kyrie. I am sure all of his soldiers will follow my orders. And your toys will be serve me faithfully. Would you care to dance?" music starts up again, but it's more like dancing music. I nod at the doll and take him in my hands. We dance for two rounds of the music before Pavia comes running up to us, Penny right behind her.

"I'm sorry, Prince Gunther, I have to let Penny out to relieve herself." His only response is a sparkle in his eye again and I place him back in the cabinet. "C'mon, Penny, let's get you out." But she doesn't move, in fact, she starts growling. It is then that I notice a swirl of magic dust go around the owl-topped grandfather clock near the toy castle. And the owl becomes Uncle Drosselmeier!

"Uncle Drosselmeier?! What in the world are you doing on top of the clock?!" he only smirks at me, opens his hands and blows magic dust in two directions, one towards the Toy Cabinet, the other everywhere else. "What are you doing? You're starting to scare me!" but what comes next scares me even more. I resist the urge to scream as hundreds of mice come out of the fireplace, led by a mouse with a golden crown on his head!

"Well, my mice army, let's get to the destruction of the Nutcracker!" I immediately run to the cabinet, willing to risk my life for Prince Gunther. But, all the toys are ALIVE!

"Please, Your Highness, you must fight to protect your kingdom!" Clareia says, trying to convince the Nutcracker to go to battle.

"Is there not another way?"

"Oh, come now! You'd rather make Kyrie lose her life for you?!" Tealea says in a sassy tone.

"No, I will not let Miss Kyrie even risk her life for me and my kingdom." He climbs down the jump rope that Tealea and Clareia hold.

"Everyone in the Toy Cabinet, we must defend ourselves against the Mouse King and his evil mice army!" all the soldiers cheer 'Hail Prince Günter!' and as the Mice Army advances, Prince Gunther asks Ernest to be commander of the cavalry.

"Commander?!" he asks as he climbs down.

"Ernest, you are the only one here with the most experience. I will be counting on you." They salute each other and Prince Gunther tells the soldiers to get in their battle positions. "Ready? Aim and fire!" the Nutcracker shouts when the Mice Army is close enough. Most of the mice get knocked down by the fake arrows, and I giggle, but when the Mouse King advances on Gunther from his blind spot, I can't help but cry out.

"Prince Gunther!" he pulls out his own sword and deflects the Mouse King's. They engage in a battle, but it is obvious that the Mouse King has the upper hand. Then, the Nutcracker Prince trips, loses his sword and just before the ugly Mouse King can raise his sharp sword, I take off my slipper and throw it at him. This knocks him away from the prince and into the coals of the fireplace.

"HOT! HOT!" he shouts after he lands. "MY TAIL IS ON FIRE!" he runs away from the fireplace and I trip over Pavia as I back away, hitting the back of my head on the edge of the Toy Cabinet. Please, let Prince Gunther be alright…that is my last thought before the dark overcomes my senses.