|By : Icarus|
Category: Fairy Tales, Fables, Folklore, Legends, and Myth > Fairy Tales
Views: 176 -:- Recommendations : 0 -:- Currently Reading : 0
|Disclaimer: I do not own the Wizard of Oz and make no money. There is an adult scene in this, and the relationship between Ozma and Dorothy is pretty blatant. But it's a traditional Oz story, but would be considered a Parallel Oz by the Royal Timeline|
Lurlinemas in Oz
by Dion Barak
Recently I started revisiting some of my old haunts... places I'd visited and lived at in previous years. It was emotionally draining but purging at the same time. I know... from certain things that happened to me... some of my future destiny. Not all... not even things that are certain. There are always options, even if the Universe is heading you toward events.
First, I'm a fae. My father was Sioc, the Fire and Ice Unseelie from the North... some times known as Jack Frost, other times by other names. My mother was Mearbhall, one of the faerie queen Titania's daughters. But that's mostly irrelevant to this story.
Recently I traveled to Oz, the place they've made movies about. I've seen many of them, as I spend a lot of time on Earth in various times. I can travel in time as well as space... an unusual talent even for my people. In fact that's part of the reason daddy disowned me after I lived within his sithen awhile. He even denies I'm his daughter.
I've lived a rough life... but there have been good times. And I want to share one of them with you.
After I wrote about my life recently I decided it was time to visit one of my daughters... not Irene, but the other one. She'd been raised in a land I'm fated to discover and found for its inhabitants in the future... IF things go that way... under my Faerie Queen name of Lurline. I don't know much about that. Though my future self made me a gift of my future memories there are so many that often they're unclear. But at least I do know about that.
I decided that the best time to visit her was to see the coronation of her, um... close friend, Dorothy, into her Royal Court... the year Dorothy moved to Oz after her 18th birthday. You see, my daughter is Princess Ozma, the ruler of the Land of Oz.
I know... you think that that place is only a fiction, that though there are books and movies—and even a musical—about it, it doesn't exist. But it does. In multiversal reality anything people can imagine exists somewhere. Which is why—though I'm fae, not a human—I try not to imagine things that are bad. I like to be a good girl. And... um... there's times I'm REAL good! *blushes*
So anyway once I decided this I transported myself to Oz. I did it to a time that was before the Coronation... I didn't want to just show up out of nowhere. And I decided to use my given birth name of Dion... as I didn't want to be treated special. You see, because my future self founded the land of Oz and left one of my Faerie band there to start the royal dynasty of the land I'm... umm... highly regarded. I'm uncomfortable with that and wanted to be treated like just your average lesser fae, like I appear to those with no mystical senses. I knew there'd be some who'd know I was more than that... but that's life.
I popped in near the Emerald City and, as I didn't want to be seen, appeared outside the city in a poppy field that most avoid. The poppies don't bother me and I thought they smelled great... all nice and spicy!
The poppy field itself extended for quite a ways. The scarlet blossoms were occasionally interspersed with blooms of other shades... yellow, blue, purple, and other colors. The poppies didn't seem to mind having other flowers share their bed but they were the largest type there. They dominated the area and extended from the banks of the river that, I understand, leads to the Winkie country. The Yellow Brick Road was beyond the field, and once I reached that it didn't take me long to head toward the center of Oz.
And for the first time ever I saw the Emerald City.
It's a beautiful place! Its spires rise high above the surrounding countryside and rise to heights that seem to defy the laws of gravity. There are higher structures in the Mortal Realm, but they're made of steel underneath it all... something that the fae can't abide in large amounts. And the concrete used in those buildings.... *shudders*
Its towers, made of jade, rise up, encrusted by the emeralds that were mined from the mountains in the Gillikin country to the north. Those mountains overlook the northern Yellow Brick Road that runs from the Impassable Desert in the north to the capital of Oz in the south. The Flatheads live on one of the mountains there, and the Regalian Mountains adjoin one of the odd little Kingdoms in Oz. Though how Kings and Queens in Oz can be subject to a Faerie Princess? Go figure!
The Royal Flag of Oz, flew from the pinnacle of the central tower in the center, above the tops of all the spires around it. It consists of the four colors of the four regions placed surrounding the central emblem of an O combined with a Z... the same symbol that I knew, from reading the books as a child, was on the Royal Scepter and Crown. The central gold emblem, of course, was on a background of emerald green.
The walls around the city stand firm and strong against invaders. Though there have been some who have been able to take the city—notably Gen. Jinjur, whose father worked in the Regalian mines—the walls have never been pierced. They are made of green adamant, a very tough stone not found in Oz but in another realm. I don't know how that was brought to the land... but there are many things that are mysteries to me. What would life be without that?
The Royal Palace in the center of the city towered above all the other buildings, a structure the Wizard had constructed when he had the citizens of the area rebuild after arriving in Oz. The city had been there since several generations after I left my faerie helper, Ozma I, to rule the realm when the humans were brought in. Ozma I was not an immortal Faerie, like some, but lived a few hundred years, establishing the area's culture, building the original city, and taking several male and female human consorts during her reign. Her fae bloodline began this Realm's royal dynasty and spread throughout the inhabitants... making most of Oz, by the time I visited, her descendants.
I made the walk to the city, my heart in my mouth. I hadn't seen any of my three children since shortly after their birth, when I fostered them in places necessary for their lives to be good eventually... and for their destinies to be fulfilled.
At the gate was a funny looking man dressed in a fine velvet outfit. He was stocky, with a green hat on, emerald gems adorning the vest and light green fur lining the outer parts of the coat, kind of like Santa Claus, but in a different color. He was as short as the Munchkins... whom I've never met... were supposed to be. He seemed familiar... but I couldn't place him at first.
He looked at me and smiled. “And who are you, young lady?”
I smiled. “My name's Dion... what's yours?”
He looked startled, then answered, “Call me Normie... that's good enough.” He chuckled and nodded at me. “I don't think anyone's ever asked me that before, in my forty years of service! Welcome to the Emerald City, Dion.”
“Hee!” I grinned. “I've heard about this place for years... but this is the first time I've ever been here!” I looked around at the slight blanket of snow that surrounded the grassy fields of green surrounding the city and looked upward at the towers that stood so high they were visible outside the walls. “It's beautiful!”
He nodded. “Yes... my good friend, the Wizard, worked hard to have the people rebuild the city. Those wicked witches....” He sighed. “Things were rough when they were around.”
I nodded. “I believe it... the ones the Good Witches overthrew, and the ones... well... the ones Dorothy liquidated and... um... made disappear.” I frowned, for the first time realizing the similarity of my future death, which I'd seen, to that of the Wicked Witch of the East. But no house dropped on me....
“Can I come in? I heard Dorothy's coronation is soon, as another Princess.”
He nodded again. “There have been many coming for the coronation. But I've never seen your like before,” he said, gazing at my form with curiosity.
At the time I was wearing the most scanty top I could get away with in this land, not liking clothing much at all. My skirt was brown, flowing around me, moving in the breeze and billowing as I walked. My faerie tats on my arms, the beautiful purple lines swirling on my skin, were all visible... but the ones on my legs were largely hidden. He studied me intently and I blushed. “I hope it's OK for me to be here.”
He nodded. “All are welcome. Sorry at the abrupt greeting... I was kind of surprised. Aren't you cold?”
I shook my head. “Oh no. My fae blood keeps me warm most of the time. In fact...” ...I giggled... “...at times I'm outright hot! Especially when I'm dancin'!”
He laughed. “Oh, then you'll like the ball after the coronation. It'll be in another week, on Lurlinemas.”
I looked at him, shocked. “Lurlinemas?”
He looked at me with curiosity. “Yes... the holiday celebrating the discovery and founding of Oz by the fairy queen Lurline. It's quite the event... you must have heard of it.”
I shook my head. “No... I'm not from Oz. I just came here to visit.”
He nodded. “You found a way past the deserts?”
I nodded back. “Yes... it's not hard for my talents. Though I hear magic's forbidden here?”
He laughed. “Oh yes... there were too many problems, so only a few are licensed for that. You may have to ask Ozma herself for permission to leave if that's how you arrived.”
I smiled at the first mention of my daughter. “I'm sure we'll get along fine.”
“Well then, let me open the way.” He pulled the large ring of keys from his belt and fumbled around with them, eventually finding one that was larger than the others, with a huge emerald on the part that hooked to the key ring. “Here it is!” He unlocked the gate in and swung the door open.
I got to see my first view of the inside of the Emerald City.
At first we came into an arched room, the walls studded with emeralds, giving a brightness to it as the light refracted from the high windows in the archways. In the center of the room was a green box with a little key on top of it, a transparent case holding it. I smiled and pointed at it.
“That's where the spectacles were kept back when the Wizard wanted everyone to wear them in the city, isn't it?”
Normie chuckled. “Yes it is. In those days to pass through the inner gate everyone... human, animal, or whatever... had to don them to hide the spectacle of the city's brightness from their eyes and damaging them. But when Ozma took the throne her faerie magic made it so that we didn't need them any more. The people so highly regarded the Wizard's concerns for them that she gave orders for us to keep this as a memento.”
I giggled... as I knew that that wasn't true. The Wizard... who I'd met several years before, when—wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway he was a humbug and wanted everyone to wear those so that all was green within the city and conned them all into it for decades. He was a very persuasive man.
The Guardian of the Gates—who by now I remembered had been in Baum's 1st book—took a large golden key from the wall and unlocked the inner gate. The door swung open and he gestured toward it. “Welcome to the Emerald City!” I curtsied and entered.
Within the gate there were numerous dwellings, small and comfortable, with children and family playing and working there. All seemed happy, smiling and filled with joy and happiness. I'd never seen, in all my travels, a place where the inhabitants seemed so content. And it was more than just their appearance.
My power could feel that the people living here were connected in a harmony transcending that of people in the other planes of reality. Their lives were something completely unique in my experience. I felt that... if I didn't already know it wasn't meant to be... I could spend the rest of my long life here in contentment.
There were carts and vendors scattered around the green walkway as we headed toward the city's center. Slowly but surely we came to the region where the huge towers seen outside the city walls were, and eventually came to the Central Palace, where Princess Ozma held court.
Outside the entryway stood a man with green spectacles. His uniform was old-fashioned and I giggled despite myself on seeing him. He frowned at me, holding his rifle on guard as I approached.
“Halt! Who goes there?”
The Guardian gave him some kind of salute. “This is Dion... she, like the other guests, is here for Princess Dorothy's coronation.” He stepped close and whispered, “She seems to be from outside Oz.”
“Outside? Hmm... that's unusual I do say. Where are you from, young woman?”
I looked at him, my eyes somewhat downcast, my hands folded before me. “I'm just meek and humble... this is something very important to me. I'm a wanderer, I've been many places... the forest of Barzai, the City of New York, in the mountains of Eastern Europe, and many others. I had to come here to see this. If I may, Sir... oh, what is your name?”
“Captain-General Omby Andy at your service.” He stroked his bushy mustache... the only part of his long beard I'd seen in pictures I'd seen that was on him at that time. “Step inside," answered the soldier, "and I will carry your message to Princess Ozma."
Nervous as heck I walked within the entrance to the palace. When I'd been in Oz before I hadn't come here... I hadn't even come into the Emerald City, but to the woods nearby, far enough away that I couldn't even see the City, where—but I'll get to that later.
There was a big room beyond the gate. Andy insisted we wipe our feet well on a mat before entering. This room was carpeted, with more emeralds studded upon the walls, and the ceiling arched above us. From the outside I'd seen that this entryway was its own structure, smaller, which was connected to the large tower but built independently.
The green furniture was also studded with emeralds. There was a sofa and several chairs for sitting. A table off in the corner was sitting next to a bookcase filled with volumes... I was too far away to make out any of the titles. And there was an area off to the side that had kids' toys and small furniture. All in various hues of green.
I went over to the bookshelf and looked at some of the volumes. I didn't recognize most of the authors, as the Oz writers don't seem to have been in the library on the island where I grew up. I did see a volume or two by the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, which I glanced through. They largely were accounts of their journey with Dorothy to meet the Wizard and liquidate the Wicked Witch of the West, and accounts of their time, respectively, as ruler of Oz and Emperor of the Winkies.
There were also many volumes, abstruse ones, by Prof. HM Wogglebug, TE... the Public Educator. He ran the College of Art and Athletic Perfection in the southwestern part of Munchkin-land. His books, from the skimming I gave them, were filled with a combination of the most astute evaluations, theories and deductions in any texts, totally hilarious anecdotes from hither and yon, and the most absurd wrong-headed ideas I'd ever ran across. Truly the Wogglebug had an amazing brain, and was someone with whom debate would be both fascinating and a challenge.
On the bottom shelf, finally, I saw a very slim volume... but one that made me catch my breath. It was titled, “The Story of Lurline.” Hesitantly, fearfully, I reached for it, wondering what the Oz people believed about my life, when Omby Andy returned.
“The Royal Princess says I should have you shown to rooms where you may rest in comfort after your journey." He blew on a little green whistle and a woman appeared... a very small woman, which I was beginning to see was not uncommon in Oz. She was dressed in fine green silks, had beautiful green eyes and even had green hair... whether or not natural or tinted I couldn't tell. She may have dyed her hair to match her clothing and the city as a whole, something that wouldn't surprise me a bit.
Sashes adorned her dress in ways both elegant and tasteful. Though she wore what appeared to be an apron it seemed far classier than any one would wear for kitchen work. Her hat was adorned with lime green roses in addition to the sashes she wore both there and on the dress itself. I smiled. I knew exactly who this woman was.
“Hello! My name's Dion. What's yours?”
She smiled back. “Jellia Jamb at your service.” She curtsied and I curtsied back. I giggled, a slight blush coming to my face... she was the first woman of Oz I'd ever met.
“Jellia will show you to your rooms and help you freshen up from the road. The Guardian says you came from outside Oz?” A very slight frown came over his face.
“Oh yes... I was wandering, as I always do, and decided it was time for me to come here. I appeared within the poppy field and then came here by the Yellow Brick Road.”
“The poppy field?” Jellia did frown, not even trying to hide it like Andy. “And it didn't put you to sleep?”
I shook my head. “No... I'm of the fae, and immune to such things. Something that makes me feel very lucky.”
Jellia looked at me, a strange expression coming over her face. “I see.” She smiled then and relaxed just a little. “Many of us in Oz have fae ancestry... accounting for our short stature. When Queen Lurline left one of her faerie band here, Ozma I, to rule on her behalf, she started a place where that bloodline would spread and grow across the land's face. Which maybe accounts for the widespread use of magic before our Ozma's edicts against it.” She giggled. “Some of the folks even believe our Ozma's the same one Lurline left here.”
I giggled too, shaking my head. I couldn't remember, in my swiss-cheese future self's transfer of memories to me, anything exactly about that Ozma so long ago. But I knew for a fact that it was me that had left the current Ozma, my daughter, here... though it had led to a very hard life for her during her younger years.
“This Lurline... I've heard you have a holiday about her?”
“Yes, ma-am... Lurlinemas marks the day of her birth, and we celebrate by giving gifts to each other to commemorate the great gift-giver with whom she traveled. Some say her companion was a dark elf.”
I nodded, still... perhaps mercifully... unable to summon the memories of what lie before me to my mind. “This Lurline... she was good then?”
“Very good! Without her this land would have remained a barren wilderness within the Deadly Desert, uninhabited by either humans or fairies. She deserves all the honors we give to her.”
I nodded again, feeling very humble.
We went through seven corridors and up three flights of stairs till we came to a room at the front of the palace. It was decorated, of course, in green, and seemed familiar to me... like much I'd seen here. The four poster bed looked soft and comfortable, with satin sheets and a wonderful quilted comforter over the top.
In the room's center there was a fountain, throwing its greenish liquid into the air, filling the room with the same minty scent I gave off when I was... um... well, horny. No sense making an issue of it—when I'm horny I smell like mint. But to smell it in the air when it didn't come from me? I couldn't help it, I felt the tingling between my legs start... it was as if the scent of it, even if it wasn't from me, was triggering my own body's responses the same way that when I feel them I give off that scent.
I looked over at Jellia, a dreamy look in my eyes, a smile on my face. “This room is so nice... it's far more than I deserve as a stranger to this land.”
“It's all right... Ozma herself wanted you in this room. She looked at you in her magic picture. It's funny... she got the strangest look on her face, kind of... almost hard at first, like I'd never seen on her. Then it softened, and she told me to bring you to this room... it's where Princess Dorothy came on her first trip to Oz.” She beamed. “I showed her here myself... just like I did you!”
I stepped toward her, the urges within me becoming almost uncontrollable as the scent and the sight of her merged with the longing I've been having lately. It had been so long since I'd... but that's not really something I need to dwell on.
“You've worked here awhile? Are you one of those Munchkins to the east?”
She shook her head. “No... I'm from Gillikinland in the north. Though I believe there's Munchkin ancestry in me, true.” She looked at me as I approached, then suddenly got a shy, knowing look on her face. “You... you're not from here. What's it like outside this land?”
I sighed, sitting on the bed's edge and reaching out toward her. She let me take her hand. “Very glorious, and very sad. I've been in lands of darkness, lands of light, in primitive barbarity and paeans of science, in realms where freedom reigned and others where all were slaves.” My face closed. “The Realms Beyond are many and varied. You folks are lucky to have this place... and one such as Princess Ozma to guide you. She's better than I am... far better!”
Jellia giggled. “I don't know about that. We've just met, but... I believe there's something special... something very special... about you.”
I smiled and kissed her hand that I held... gently, slowly. Then... unable to control myself any longer I hugged her, pulling her to me and putting my cheek against her stomach. “Oh Jellia... if only I could tell you....” The tears came unbidden to my eyes and I held her tight, feeling the strength within her.
She stroked my hair gently, with small, strong fingers. “Shh... whatever it is that's haunting you, you're in Oz now... you can let go of it. At least for now.” She sighed, leaning, kissing the top of my head. “Whatever burdens you have... even if you must re-assume them later... you can let them go right now. This is a time of joy, of celebration! We all love Princess Dorothy from saving us from the wickedness that plagued this land for so long. And for her to be elevated by Princess Ozma?” She pulled back, looked me in the eyes and smiled. “This is going to be one of the greatest days in our history!”
I couldn't stand it any longer. I reached up and pulled her down toward me. Passionately I kissed her on the lips. She seemed startled, not sure what to do, then kissed back, her tongue twining with mine within my mouth. I grabbed her and tossed her onto the bed and lay on top of her, feeling our breasts rubbing against each other. I was bigger than her, due to my sidhe heritage, and was afraid I might hurt her... but I couldn't hold back any longer.
Our kisses continued passionately, our hands rubbing each other like crazy. My fingers caressed the delicate skin on her neck near her ears and she shuddered, reaching for my back and pulling me closer. I sighed, relaxing, but had to pull back a moment.
“Hun... I hope this is all right, I—”
“Shh... it's fine. I've... it's been so long, but—” She stopped speaking and kissed me again.
We never did undress, the urgency was so great. I felt her and she felt me and I kissed her through her clothing, making my way lower... putting my mouth on her tender, small breasts, kissing and feeling, listening to her moans and sighs as I felt her in a way I hadn't in so long. It's so hard when you're in realms where all one wants is the bare brutishness of carnalness for whatever it is they need... the realms where the beings are enslaved to drugs or money or bondage. I had been there so long that I hadn't been able to bear approaching any of them, despite my needs. But now?
Jellia, this woman of Oz who I barely knew, soothed me... bringing the faith I had that the world might end up turning out all right out within me once more. My fingers reached within her bodice and felt the smooth, firm breasts hidden within, undoing the lacing that held the clothing tight and finally reaching her supple, firm flesh that she kept hidden from the world. My fingers tweaked her nipples and rubbed upon her mounds. She gasped, and her own hands came to my breasts. I shuddered as she touched me, the shining light coming to my skin as our bodies and spirits entwined in ecstasy. I reached down to her skirt and felt her sacred mound underneath it, not yet having the courage to reach beneath yet.
She ran her hands up and down my sides, panting as she did. Her eyes were wide open, staring into mine in a way I'd never quite seen. She looked almost holy, like I was something she'd waited for her whole life. I studied her face, in a way I'd done with no other in my life.
“Jellia... you're sure about this?” I managed to speak, though breathless.
“More than I can say. It's been so long.”
“For me too, love.” And with those words I plunged ahead. Reaching down I pulled up her skirt and began massaging her lovely legs, the smoothness of the skin there rich on my fingers. I lowered my head down to her bareness there and began kissing them, my tongue tickling the insides of her thighs, gasps coming from her throat as I did. My fingers went higher, finding her mound and pressing against it. My palm covered it entirely and pressed down, moving in circles. She gasped, and pressed her own hand against mine..
“Oh, Dion, you're....” She looked down on me, a look of need on her face.
“Shh... love... for right now... I'm yours. And that's all that matters.” I reached to her undies and began sliding them gently downward.
Her muff was wonderful... a tiny tuft of greenish hair over a heavenly scented opening. Sighing, I moved my face closer, bit by bit, nibbling at the flesh of her inner thighs as I approached her sacred center of womanhood. My fingers found her clit, and began massaging her there. She began moaning, her back arching, the scent growing as I did. I was in ecstasy... this woman Jellia, whom I'd known about since I was just a child... and now we were....
Finally I couldn't hold back any longer and put my mouth on her mound. One of my fingers entered her at the same time, and we... um, we both came together at that instant. We didn't stop. I kissed and licked and felt, and she came over and over and over... it was as if we'd become one, for that time, and all we were was something that gave exquisite pleasure to each other....
Finally, after I really don't know how long, we both fell back exhausted on the bed and just lay there hugging each other.
And then the alarm sounded.
“Oh no,” she cried, pulling her disheveled clothing about her and straightening herself up as best she could. “This isn't good.”
“What is it?”
“That's the emergency alarm... I've never heard it before except in tests. Something awful's just happened!”
I shook my head. “It figures. I finally relax enough to be with someone....” I ran my fingers through her hair. She looked at me and pulled my hand down to kiss my fingers.
“It's all right, hun... it's not your fault.” She sighed. “I'm not surprised... this coronation is so important that it was bound to get someone to cause problems.”
We straightened up our clothing and headed out. Jellia figured I should come with, as I'd just shown up but was being treated with high regard by Princess Ozma. With trepidation I headed behind her, through the labyrinth of halls and stairs until we came to the main throne room where my daughter, Princess Ozma, held court. And there I got to behold her for the first time in her adult life.
She was standing in the Throne Room, not at the throne but at the table beneath the podium where they held meetings to plan things. She was wearing a long dress, red in color, fitting fairly tight but not clinging on her body. Her willowy form could be seen well beneath it and the collar was set down so that her shoulders and the top of her chest were clearly visible. The cloth across the arms led back to a diaphanous lacy covering over her back that could be mistaken for a separate cloak were it not firmly attached to the sheath she wore.
I gasped, breathless, as I saw her. I'd seen pictures of her that had been drawn when the books about her and Dorothy had been published back in the early 20th century... but I had no idea what a true beauty my own daughter was. She surpassed me in ways I can't even begin to describe, and in ways in which I have the utmost pride.
She was not tall, but of the smaller stature I'd seen among many of the fae in my time. Though she was in her twenties then, it would be easy to mistake her for a far younger age if one didn't understand the physiology of our people. The tall ones... the Sidhe, from which many of the Seelie and Unseelie Court members were descended... were only one part of our people. And though there were, at times, prejudices against the smaller of us, still one couldn't deny that they were part of our heritage. And this showed through with Ozma, as it did with the Munchkins and other inhabitants of Oz. To them the Earth people that came to the land were considered giants.
“We must find her! Mombi used the tunnel that the Nome King and his allies constructed to take her away. And I won't have that!” She looked fiercely around at the others at the table. I studied it carefully, for the first time seeing the many personages so important in the Land of Oz.
To her right was the Scarecrow. He wore... or was made of... blue garb, the color of the Munchkins, but was much larger than either Jellia or the Guardian of the Gate. His face was painted fairly well, and one of his eyes was larger than the other. Though most of the bag that made up his head was covered by his pointy hat there were still some spots where the pins and needles that made up the sharpness of his brains... if the Wizard's work, in this case, actually did do something... could be seen.
On her left was a form consisting of a long, lean body, covered with the purplish Gillikin colors... but with a pinkish accent on the vest. His neck was a stake of wood jutting up from the collar and upon that was a large, carved pumpkin with a grin upon it. I giggled, as he reminded me of that “Nightmare before Christmas” character from the movies. It wasn't that long before that holiday... only 2 days after their Lurlinemas, as a matter of fact. This, I knew, was Jack Pumpkinhead, who Ozma had carved and put together back when she was a boy.
Oh yes... Ozma had grown up a boy, because—darn, it's still too early to get to that part.
Further down around the table, on each side, were Omby Andy, the Shaggy Man... who wore raggedy clothing made of elegant materials, though I suspected rightly on travels the more rugged styles were used... the Tin Woodman... tall, lanky, his body of shining polished tin, a funnel atop his head and an ax slung across his back... Tik-Tok, the Clockwork Man made all of copper or bronze... I was never sure which... Dorothy's Uncle Henry and Auntie Em, and, at the end of the table... the Wizard of Oz.
I'd met the Wizard just a few years ago in my time, but for him it had been over twenty years. I stopped and stared at him as we entered, not certain at all which way things would go next.
As we entered Ozma looked over at us. Her face closed, briefly, as she saw me, then lightened just a touch as her eyes went to Jellia. “Welcome, Jellia. And this must be...?”
“My name's Dion, everyone. And... I think I recognize all of you.” The Wizard stared at me, a stunned expression on his face. Then sadness... he seemed to visibly age before my eyes.
“Join us... we have a situation. Dorothy's been kidnapped.”
I gasped. “The poor dear! How did it happen?”
“It was right after the Nome King's army was repelled by getting to drink of the Fountain of Oblivion. You've... heard of that, Dion?”
I nodded. “Doesn't it cause forgetfulness?”
“Exactly. Roquat, the Nome King, had amassed a large army to invade and take over the Land of Oz, and we managed to defeat them without a fight simply by making them thirsty enough to drink of the waters and lose their memories.”
“Sounds like Lethe,” I muttered. Ozma smiled, and the Wizard, despite himself, simply chuckled.
“Be that as it may... Mombi used the tunnel they created to get into the Palace area and get to Dorothy's private suite. I wasn't there at the time as I had Court duties to attend to.” Ozma looked incredibly sad. “By the time we found this out they were already back down the tunnel and away from the city. And the Magic Belt's not able to teleport Dorothy back... something I don't understand.” She let her head down, quietly muttering, in a way that I don't think most there could hear, the words, “...if only I'd used the Belt to fill that tunnel right away....”
I sighed. “Those forms of magic some times do strange things.”
“I've been thinking about that,” said the Wizard, still not taking his eyes off me. “Mombi seems to have a charm far beyond her powers at her disposal. And I've known her since—” He stopped, and looked over guiltily at Ozma.
“I agree, Wizard,” said Andy. “Her strategies in the old days weren't showing the same kind of power as this. Now while she was in control of Gillikinland she had immense power... but the Good Witch of the North stripped her of much of that when she was deposed. Though, thankfully...” ...he looked toward Ozma... “...she still had some power left when we needed it.”
“I al-so a-gree,” began Tik-Tok. “My thoughts are well wound and there is noth-ing I can re-mem-ber that would let Mom-bi be a-ble to re-sist the ma-gic belt. Glin-da has pro-grammed much of the his-to-ry of the e-vil wit-ches in-to me so I may know when they may give us prob-lems.” His voice was in a monotone, and I studied him... not only with my normal senses, but with my power as well. Ozma looked over at me as I did so.
“You are aware, Dion, that within the Land of Oz, only a few of us may use magic?”
“Oh, sorry!” I blushed. “I'm just so used to it I didn't really realize what I was doing could be considered magic.”
She smiled. “Under the current circumstances I suppose I can give you a dispensation to use whatever it is you have to aid in our search and rescue.”
I sighed... I'd forgot something. Due to the time jumps Ozma was almost the same age as I was myself right now... and far more experienced in dealing with large groups of people. She had been running the land for around ten years now.
“Scarecrow, can you bring out the maps?” He nodded and reached beneath the table to bring out a large chart of the Land of Oz, showing all four of the lands around it and the central hub where the Emerald City sat. She nodded and, taking out a quill, began penning in a line from the Emerald City to the Northwest corner of the map.
“This is the tunnel Roquat and his people made. They came from his dominions... the mountains in the Land of Ev... and went pretty well straight toward here. Now Mombi and Dorothy, from the magic picture, are right about... here.” She drew an X about 1/3 of the way from the Emerald City to the Deadly Desert. “They're not traveling fast... Mombi, believe me, is quite slow... and Dorothy's resisting, of course.” She smiled. “I'm sure she's kicking and trying to bite and....” She shook her head, the seriousness returning. “Now at the rate they're traveling we should have time to get to the area right near the Deadly Desert and intercept them if we can dig down.”
“But how?” The Tin Woodman shook his head, a slight squeak in the gearing. Jellia immediately stepped forward to oil that joint. “By the time we get there it'll be too late. Even as slow as she is we just wouldn't have the time to get there and dig down to the tunnel.”
“If we were going through normal means, Nick, yes... we would. But...” ...the Wizard continued... “...we'll have time enough if we fly there.”
“And how will we do that?” Jack Pumpkinhead's empty eye sockets turned toward the Wizard, moving on the stick holding it despite the lack of any mechanisms on his form.
“Why the same way you yourself were brought to life so long ago by Tip.” The Wizard pointed upward onto the wall.
There, hanging, was the mounted head of a gump... a strange, antelope-like animal. It looked down at all of us and gave what for a creature like that might be interpreted as a grin. “He means me of course. Hello Jack. It's been awhile.”
Jack made sounds like laughter... something his body was totally incapable of, but which the magic of the land allowed to happen. “Of course! When Tip and I first came south he used the Powder of Life on you to make that flying machine! And you were fast.”
“I was fast in my first life, and I'm fast in my second life!” The gump laughed. “All that needs to be done is to reassemble my parts... they're all still around. And for Dorothy I'll be happy to help.”
So we brought in two couches and several plant fronds from what looked like palm trees, or maybe the local equivalent. They were all tied together with a clothes line and a broom added for a tail. When it was finished the tail began wagging and the gump smiled again. “Oh I hate to admit it... but I've almost missed this!”
The Gump had Tik-Tok (the heaviest), the Tin Woodman, The Wizard, Omby Andy and Uncle Henry inside, along with an assortment of enchanted shovels. For the rest of us Ozma had made other arrangements. She'd contacted the Winged Monkeys, and their leader had agreed to help. Since Dorothy had released them from slavery to the Wicked Witch of the West he felt honored to be helping in her current rescue. He himself wore this funky looking hat with a pom-pom on top.
Auntie Em insisted on going and she, the Scarecrow, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Shaggy Man and Ozma each had a monkey to carry them. When one came to me to carry me, I laughed and shook my wings out, unfurling them from my back.
“No thanks, I can make my way myself.”
We traveled to the Northwest corner of the Land, just within Winkieland near the Gillikin border. The Gump flew on ahead so that the strongest diggers could get started. The Shaggy Man had complained about staying behind with us, but with the heavy tools and Tik-Tok on board there was only so much weight the gump could take.
The trip didn't take too long and by the time me and the monkeys got to the excavation site it was a huge hole in the ground. The Winkieland area right near the desert was past what was marked the Dangerous Passage, near the town called Patch, according to the Wogglebug's map. I hadn't read about either of them when I'd read Baum's books, but I did recognize Oogaboo to the north of it. And it was near the place where Ozma had used a magic carpet to cross the Deadly Desert to help the people of Ev. That was when she first met the Nome King... the troublemaker who'd had this dang tunnel built in the first place.
Finally the hole penetrated down far enough that it pierced into the surface of the tunnel below and we were able to lower ourselves into it. It was dark, but there were some lanterns... both oil and magic driven... that we used to see underneath the ground. We headed toward where Mombi, her hench-things and Dorothy were.
As we headed that way I had the strangest feeling... one of familiarity, of power within the Land that wasn't that of Oz, but of another Realm... one far more deadly and dangerous. I shuddered involuntarily and thought back, trying to remember where this feeling had come from before. But then it was too late. We found them. Dorothy, Mombi, the hench-things... and one other. I looked at this other woman and gasped.
Her face was split, half being pale and morbid, the other being dark and skeletal. Her garb was a mix of the neo-Gothic punk styles so prevalent in the latter part of the 20th century, like that girl that Gaiman guy had in the comics, and older, Nordic style garb. She looked at me and grinned. “Hello Dion... we meet again. Miss me?”
A chill went through my body. The others headed toward Mombi... the magicians Ozma and the Wizard at the fore with the others moving toward the bound and gagged Dorothy. But I was facing off against my dearest enemy, my half-sister by Sioc, known among the Norse by a different name. The frost-giant heritage within us showed greatly within her as she was, within their cosmology, the ruler of the nether-realm... Hel.
She ran off down the tunnel back the way they came and I gave chase. I was always the faster of the two of us, back when we were both in the demoniac future of the post-Armageddon apocalyptic world. So it wasn't surprising when I caught up with her.
And of course then came the metal cuffs, fastening around my wrists and causing me pain. Metal and enchanted... she still knew how to hurt me.
“Ready hun?” She chuckled. “I can take you back now and put one of those fun collars back on you again.”
“Leave her alone!”
We both turned. There stood Ozma, a fierce expression on her face, a bundle of light shining in her hand, glowing, illuminating her features. I admit... I was almost scared myself. I'd never known in the stories told of her that she might be capable of such a thing... but I could feel her power, her essence, her spirit within, the desire to eliminate Hel from Reality, and the strength of character that she had to resist that temptation.
“Oh, so it's the baby now, is it?” Hel laughed. “You know that this one's your—”
“I know. And it makes no difference. Let her go. And get out of my Land!” She tossed a bolt of energy from her hand to Hel's feet, knocking her down.
“Whoo... who'd have thought the little one had so much spunk in her after all?” Hel stepped back, waved, and the manacles fell off my arms. “Well I'll just say goodbye, then... though you, dear Dion... you won't be able to.” She smiled.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean you forgot your stories while putting yourself into this ridiculous continuity implant. You know what's happening next... the sealing? The removal of Oz from contact with the outer world?”
I gasped. “Oh no... you're right! But—”
Hel laughed, forming cascades of mystical energy around herself. “No buts... I was your way out of here, but now you're stuck. I'm not. Bye-bye! Have fun with Daughter Dearest here!” And with a final wave of her hand she was gone.
I rubbed my wrists, the blisters that would become scars I could only hide with glamour fresh upon them. Ozma moved forward with concern. “Are you all right Lu—Dion?”
I nodded. “You know then.” I looked away.
She nodded as well. “I've known from the moment you came into that poppy field. Did you think you could come into my Realm and I wouldn't sense it?”
I shook my head. “I guess at times I'm just a fool.”
She laughed. “Maybe... but a fool that I love. But what she said about not being able to leave...?”
I shook my head. “I don't know.” I concentrated a moment... but nothing happened. I was still there. It was true... I couldn't leave the Land of Oz. I looked at her, feeling helpless, and nodded. “She was right.” I didn't cry. My daughter was so strong, so courageous, and had done so much for her people during her short life that I managed to keep from humiliating myself in front of her.
“We'll see. I'm not sure what the problem is.”
“I do. You know that Royal Historian you've been in touch with most of your reign?”
She nodded. “Yes... Mr. L. Frank Baum, on the Earth Plane. Why?”
“The events of Roquat's attack... and a few more things... were written by him in a book published in 1910. I come from 2016... at least, right now.”
“So the rumors are true? You travel in time?”
I nodded. “Perhaps too much... I think much of my problem with handling reality is due to that. I won't say much about your future, but I will say... when you go to meet Glinda soon, with the others, you're going to be asking her to cut you off from the outside world.”
“I've been considering that. But—oh!” A look of comprehension came over her face. “So she's already done the spell?”
I nodded. “It would appear so... though how Hel would know the exact moment I don't know.” I chuckled. “Well that reminds me... since Hel's my half-sister, she's your aunt. What a family reunion!”
She laughed. “Well... Mombi raised me, so she's my step-mom. And...” ...she got a sad expression on her face... “... there was someone... someone very important I wanted you to meet. But it might be best for you to fly to see Glinda while we return to the Emerald City... if the enchantment's still setting she might still be able to get you home.”
“Oh there's no place like home, Ozma... but I really don't have one. And—” I stopped. “But you're right. I can't fly yet though... I have to heal and rest a while.” I held up my wrists and showed her the un-glamoured wounds upon them. She looked at them, sadly, then laid her hands upon me.
“I'm not a healer like you are, mother... but I may be able to help.” She focused, the shining crystal faerie light coming from her hands and coursing into my body. Slowly the blisters healed, mended, went away till there were only slight traces left. Because of her intervention I now knew the scarring I had from wounds elsewhere wouldn't come to those parts of me Hel's manacles had burnt.
She weaved, dizzily, and I had to grasp her to keep her on her feet. Then, for the first time since she was a newborn baby, I hugged her.
“I love you, Ozma. I didn't want to tell the Wizard to leave you with Mombi so she could turn
you into a boy... but I had no choice! It's what had to be!” I started crying then, unable to hold it in. She hugged back, tears welling within her own eyes... the tears that, to some, are a rare treasure indeed... and the source of powerful magic.
“I forgive you. I suspected... knew, somehow, that such was the case. But I let the Wizard stay here, despite all. How could I ever do less for you?” She held me, and we stood in silence there for moments, until the others found us.
We spent the night there, at Ozma's orders, while I rested and healed further. The Tin Woodman went out and got wood for a fire, and others scoured the nearby woods and found edibles for us. I was happy to sup on the evening dew, the moon mist upon which I mostly existed.
After some time we sighed and relaxed. Then Ozma looked around.
“It's almost Lurlinemas... and the time of Dorothy's official coronation. Our friend, Dion here, has come from far away to see this... but it seems she must leave us.” The crowd murmured, sadly. “She's been of great help. It seems that the sorceress that got Mombi to try this is one of her ancient foes... and that somehow Dion was drawn here to fight against her while we rescued our dear Princess.” She looked toward Dorothy with one of the most loving expressions I'd ever seen.
“As we know Lurlinemas is the time when gifts are given... when Lurline's companion, the Gift-giver, the Dark Elf, went from home to home with her sacred basket and let hope come out to all willing to take her in.
“Dion and I have already shared our gifts to each other... something so important that we cannot speak of it. And her gift to us has been her presence, and her aid in rescuing Dorothy.”
Dorothy smiled. “Much obliged, Miz Dion! That split-faced fiend....” She shuddered. “I hate to think what she'd have done to me if she'd gotten away with me.”
I nodded. “Oh believe me, Dorothy... you don't want to think about that!” I held myself tightly, refusing to shudder in front of these brave people.
“So what can we give you for an early Lurlinemas present, Dion?”
I laughed. “Just being with you all has been a great gift. I wanted to stay, but... I can't.” I looked sadly toward the Emerald City, then back toward Ozma. “Could you please... Jellia, I—tell her I didn't mean or want to leave so soon, but—”
Ozma lifted her hand. “I'll let her know. And I do believe... Dion... that she does, indeed, know more than she let you know. Did you know she's fascinated by one of the books in the entryway library?” She looked over at the Wizard.
I shook my head. “No. What?”
“'The Life of Lurline.' It seems, my... friend... that you bear a striking resemblance to the Faerie Queen who started this land.” The Wizard, at whom she was still gazing, nodded, his eyes fixed upon my face.
“The parting gift... as I suspect it's time for you to fly, now that your wounds have mostly healed... has to be something of importance.” She looked at the Wizard. “It's time, my Official Wizard, for you to tell us something.”
He looked toward her. “Me? What is it that I can say?”
“It's time for you to tell us exactly what your story is on my fostering to Mombi... the tale that Glinda has already told some here.”
He shook his head, looking nervous. “I... don't think that's a real good idea.” He looked over at me with sadness. “People might misunderstand.”
“Be that as it may... it's time.” She nodded toward him.
He sighed. “Very well. But it's not a nice story in parts.
“Back where I came from I was a balloonist, going up into the air in those hot air filled balloons at carnies and fairs and charging folks for the ride. I was one of the main attractions and was known as OZ... the first two initials of my full name. But one day I went up and there was a wind storm... a tornado, like that which brought Dorothy here the first time.
“When I landed here they saw the letters on my balloon and believed I was the rightful King of this land, returned to rescue it from the Wicked Witches. I was dumbfounded, but saw no way out of the situation. So I used my skills and talents... some of which are real and some of which are humbug... to try and find a place in this land.
“The Ozians in the center of the land were able to rebuild the capital city, and I eventually started keeping myself away from people, not wanting them to see the true extent of my powers.”
“We know all that, Wizard. It's what we've known for years. But what does Ozma mean about the full story?” Dorothy looked at him, her arm around Ozma, and nibbled on a piece of fruit.
“That's what I'm coming to. The times... they were bad. The four Evil Witches had overthrown King Pastoria, who ruled over Oz at the time.”
“Pastoria... my grandfather.” Ozma sighed. “It was Mombi that held him captive... and my father as well, Pastoria II. His mother was an Ozma, which meant he should have been Oz, but for some reason he never got the name... perhaps because he never held the throne.”
“But that's not quite true, your majesty.”
Ozma frowned. “What?”
“When I landed in Oz, the Witches of the North and South were good ones... Glinda and the other having overthrown Mombi and the other evil witch. But when she was overthrown, Mombi lost your grandfather... and your father.”
“How do you know this, and why haven't you spoke of this further? I know some parts... the parts Glinda figured out after I myself was rescued from Mombi. But this is something of which I was unaware.”
“I was unable to speak of it... until now.” He glanced toward me, and for a moment I thought he was going to tell them who I was. But he didn't.
“When I came to Oz Pastoria II was trying to rule Oz in the center, but was... cruel. A despot. He'd learned some sorcerous magic from Mombi in his time and had become largely her son. He wasn't a nice man at all.
“His claim to the throne was... disputed. Though his mother was one of the line of Ozmas, his father was still alive... and therefore more rightfully the ruler than him.”
Ozma frowned. “So you did know of the succession of the family when we met, but never spoke of it to me?”
“No more than you spoke to me of your knowledge of my part in Mombi's raising you, my dear. We both had political realities to deal with then... you as ruler, and me as abdicator. And the people loved both of us... which is why, I presume, you never brought any of this up in front of young Dorothy.”
Dorothy looked back and forth between them, a confused look on her face. “I was young at the time, I admit, but... I'm not any more. So what's this about? Tell me.”
“What happened, dear Dorothy, was that when I arrived in the center of Oz Pastoria II, Ozma's father, was working the people there like slaves, trying to build up the Emerald City from the ruins within which the evil witches had killed his mother.” He stopped.
Ozma sat silently. She looked to the ground, then nodded. “Continue, if you would.”
“When I arrived the rebels against Pastoria II saw me coming and believed I was the rightful claimant to the throne because of my initials on the balloon. They convinced me that fighting against Pastoria II was what needed to be done. Reluctantly I agreed... but the more I saw of what that man had done to the people....” He shuddered. “I'm surprised that the Good Witches hadn't taken things in hand, but they'd both just barely overturned the evil ones in the north and south, and were concerned with those affairs.”
“Glinda never spoke to me of this.”
“No dear, she was quite busy. She did keep spies on me, you know.” He chuckled. “I've seen enough shill games that I was able to keep them under observation myself.”
“So you knew Pastoria II?” I looked at him and he stared back, the confidence within him growing by the moment.
“I did. We fought. Him with the little bits of magic he knew and me with my parlor tricks. Oh, there was a wise woman among the Ozians that was helping me or I might have ended up dead quite quickly. But the final battle was... well I finally got to see High Magic happen.”
“So what did you do?”
“I confronted him in the center of the city where the ruins of the great palace... the place I later had rebuilt... covered a great pit. There, after a fight where I used swordsmanship I'd learned in the carnies and my assistant kept the magic at bay, I found myself about to be run through. We were in his... laboratory, let's say. I grabbed something behind me and threw it at him with all my strength, hoping to knock him out.
“Instead... he disappeared.”
Ozma gazed at him a moment. “Disappeared? He was disintegrated?”
“That's what the lady felt at the time, and that's what the people believed. They were glad he was gone and coronated me as Oz the Great and Powerful right after that. And that's when we rebuilt the city. And after that...” ...he sighed... “... is when I began hiding from the world.”
“And that's when you found me then? After you... made my father vanish?”
“No, that was later. That was when I met your mother.”
We sat in silence awhile, everyone glancing around at the others, uncertain of whether or not anything should be said. I kept glancing back and forth between Ozma and the Wizard, so wanting to say, now, who I was... but not daring to. Finally, my daughter spoke.
“How did you meet my mother?”
“It was one evening, while the main palace was being built. We'd already done a lot of construction on the outer walls... though I was never certain exactly how the builder did it. I got a note delivered by a... butterfly. It flew in the window where I was staying and dropped it on my desk. I picked it up and read it. It told me that I needed to go out to the forest near the city that night and meet with someone... and that if I didn't, it would be very bad for me.
“It was signed Lurline.”
They all turned toward Ozma at that, looking at her, astonished. The Scarecrow finally broke the silence. “You're Lurline's daughter?”
Ozma nodded. “I'd heard that rumor in various sources. I've never truly believed it was true... not till now.” She looked back and forth between me and the Wizard. “Go on.”
“I left that night in a dark disguise, my face covered, my clothing black. The woods was a fair walk away... but I wasn't going to take any of the carriages there. There were no horses in Oz and I didn't trust to go with anyone else. I'd heard of Lurline by then, of course, and seen some of the celebrations they had for her. But I'd always considered it history... and were it not for the fact that I knew magic worked in Oz I'd have considered the writer an outright prankster. But as it was....
“When I got to the cottage the note had directed me to I gave the knocks and was told to enter. I came into that little cabin in the woods and the fire was blazing on the hearth. She was sitting by it, holding something closely to her breast, and looked over at me. She smiled... a bright, cheery one that reassured me.
“'Come in! Make yourself comfortable. Have a seat, warm your feet, can I get you something good to eat?' She giggled then and I laughed. She didn't seem at all like the Faerie Queen of legend, so I figured... then... that this was, indeed, an imposter.”
I laughed, remembering the talk. It had been just a few years ago for me, but for him it had been decades... but he still remembered it almost perfectly.
“So what did you do then?” I looked him straight in the eye then, no sign of sarcasm on my face at all.
“Well, I—I sat down, and put my feet up. She stood, still holding the bundle she had with care, and took a plate of scones from a counter-top and gave them to me. I must say they were delightful. I hadn't had one of those since I'd come to Oz. But after eating a few I started hearing a whimpering noise from her direction and looked closer.
“She was holding a baby and was nursing it.”
I nodded. “That's good. Nursing is good for the young.”
He looked at me and sighed. “Yes it is... Dion. It was then that I really paid attention to her. She wasn't just another woman wanting to get in touch with the Wizard... by using a fake name I'd thought... but a young mother. That made all the difference.
“'Miss... Lurline. How may I help you? What is it you want? Why did you call me here?'
“'Mr. Diggs,' she said, shocking me, as there was no one in Oz at that time that knew my given name, 'this is my daughter... Princess Ozma. Her father... or one of them, never mind, it's a long story... is Pastoria II, the despot you deposed from this Realm.'
“'Pastoria? Why... he's... I—I killed him.'
“She shook her head. 'No you didn't. You sent him to Earth. To New York City, to be precise. That's where I met him.'
“I was amazed. Not only did she know my given name but she knew some places not in Oz that no one here knew anything about at the time. I was beginning to think that maybe she really was the one she claimed to be.
“'So... this daughter of yours... Ozma? I take it you have issues with my ascension to the throne.'
“She shook her head. 'Oh not at all... in fact, I think you're just the man... or the Wizard... or the Humbug... for the job right now. She can't have it. Putting a baby on the throne? Pfft... those dang witches would eat her alive... probably literally from what I know of those sisters! And rebuild the city? She'd never be able to convince those folks to do that. She'd be lucky if they'd change her diapers!'”
Dorothy burst out laughing at that and Ozma, slightly red in the cheeks, shook a finger at her, trying to keep a stern expression on her face.
“Now now, my dear Wizard... there are probably a few things that don't need to go into the recounting.”
“Oh there's no doubt about that, Princess... some things will remain quiet.” He glanced at me and continued. “I asked Lurline, 'So what exactly is it that you wish of me?'
“She looked at me, a very sad look on her face. 'I—I need—I don't want to, but....' She looked away, the beginnings of tears in the corners of her eyes. 'I can't care for her. I'm an exile from my father's Court. I can't stay at my brother's. And I don't have a place of my own to raise her. She has to stay here... in Oz... so that when she's old enough....' She looked me straight in the eyes. 'I presume you're not going to want this burden of rulership forever.'
“'Forever's a long time. But I can't raise her either... the threats to her from the East and West... the problems with the people of the Emerald City while we rebuild... my life would be no better than yours for raising a child.'
“'I don't want you to raise her. I need you to take her north... into the forests there. Seek out old Mombi. Place her with her. Tell Mombi you'll tell the Good Witch of the North where she's at if she doesn't raise the child. Then come back two more times, at random intervals, to make sure she's being treated right.'
“I was aghast. 'But... I can't do that! Mombi was one of the Wicked Witches before she was deposed! What kind of life will that be for her? Mombi ruined her father... that would probably do the same for her.'
“She shook her head. 'No it won't. She'll grow up fine. It won't be easy for her... but then it's never easy. And it's not that I want to do this... it's that I need to do this.'
“'And if I refuse?'
“She shrugged. 'Then I'll just have to tell the East and West Wicked Ones exactly how much of a humbug you really are. But I won't have to... because you'd never want that. So you'll do as I say.'
“I realized then that, though she seemed all sweetness and light, she really did know how to play hardball, and wasn't one to be crossed. So... as I had no choice... I agreed and made arrangements for the child to be brought to the outskirts of the city the next day, after I prepared for the trip north.
“The next day I took you, Ozma, away from your mother and headed north to see Mombi... with the promise to her that, if she didn't take good care of you I'd let the Good Witch of the North know exactly where she was.”
We all sat in silence again. Then, finally, Ozma spoke once more. “Did she have Mombi turn me into a boy?”
He shook his head. “No... that was all Mombi's idea. I was furious when I found that out, on my 2nd trip there... but there wasn't a thing I could do about it. But, despite that, she seemed to be treating you well... you were well fed and not being... well, you were healthy.”
I was crying by then, but not sobbing. The tears were running down but it was only tears... nothing else. I stared at Ozma for the longest time, wondering if placing her there, as the books had said, was what really had needed to be done. But it had worked.... my daughter, Ozma, was a far better person and leader of her community than I had ever been.
“I guess,” she said, “that while we may never understand why my mother did that, it was because she loved me... and wanted me to be here once the wicked witches were gone.” She sighed. “Glinda knew a lot... more than she ever told me, I suspect.” She studied the fire, hugging Dorothy closer.
“Lurlinemas is my mother's time, when gifts are given, when family's remembered, when we see the best in each other. And that's what I see about her... she did the best for me that she could see. And that helps me love her even more.” She smiled and looked deeper into the fire, I suspect not daring to look at me at that moment.
Dorothy leaned over toward her, speaking quietly. “I do understand one thing, though. She got it set so we'd be together.” Smiling, she kissed Ozma's cheek.
Ozma smiled. “That might be the best gift of all!” She hugged Dorothy closer.
“I—I—this has been... I've never had a night like this before.” I stood and looked around at all there. “I have to go... it's something Ozma and I discussed earlier. I want to stay... but I can't. Happy Lurlinemas everyone... and I may not ever be back. But I'll always remember you all.” I smiled and they all voiced their farewells. I ran over to give Ozma and Dorothy a hug, said, “Treat each other well,” and took off into the night sky.
My journey south went quickly. By dawn I was there, over the red palace where Glinda the Good had her sorcerous power spot. I landed and was quickly escorted inside to meet the grand lady. There's no way that one can hide from someone whose record book tells them everything that happens.
Within her Palace Chamber she sat upon a throne studded with rubies. She looked regal... far more than even Ozma had. She wore an elegant white gown, her red hair covered with a gold crown studded with rubies, her piercing blue eyes watching and studying me, a look of amusement on her face.
“So it is you. When I read in the Book of Records about your appearance in Oz again I could barely believe it. The last time....” A sad look came over her face.
“Excuse me? The last time? You weren't around when my elder self discovered the Land of Oz, were you?”
She chuckled. “No... that was far before my birth.” She stepped down from the throne, her steps regal, the scent of roses in the air. My own mint started rising as she came toward me, blending in with her own scent to create an aroma that was heavenly. I sighed, staring at her beauty as she gracefully approached. “Come with me.”
We entered a room adjoining her throne room... one filled with books. It was good to see that there was so much literacy in the Land of Oz. In many places I'd visited there was an appalling lack of literacy. On Mearbhall Island, where I was raised by the Three Adepts, the books had been salvaged from the Library of Alexandria and early depositories and extended from then through the Roman Empire time, the Dark Ages, the Age of Enlightenment, and on up through the Scientific Revolution through the Pulp Era and Paperbacks to the early 21st century. I hadn't read all of them... though I may have had the time I was always out in the natural world dancing and communing with the trees, birds, chipmunks and other wild life on the island. But I did read many... including all of L. Frank Baum's stories about the Land of Oz. That's why I knew so much about it and the apparent inconsistencies which the tales contained.
At the room's center was a large book with very small print. I squinted at it, and Glinda gave me a special magnifying glass. I read within it the account of the camp-out where I'd just come from and my journey south to meet with Glinda.
“This is your Book of Records!”
She smiled. “Yes. You gave it to me on your last trip here.”
“You met my future self?”
“Oh more than that, love... but we'll get into that later... I hope.” A slight flush came over her cheeks, and I got a strong suspicion of what she meant. “I didn't have this book when we were searching for Ozma or I could have found her easily, years before we did. But you held it back, for reasons I couldn't determine earlier. Now I know. You'd seen our future.”
I nodded. “Yes... but I couldn't see your past... or much if it.”
She nodded. “I know. I have these.” She pointed to a row of books, slim volumes, on a shelf nearby. I recognized some of them, and the later volumes were very similar in design to the earlier ones I'd written.
“My journals... including the ones I thought I'd lost! Where did you get these?”
She laughed. “You gave them to me... to preserve, you said. It was shortly after I overthrew the Wicked Witch of the South... the one that fled to Jinxland.”
I nodded. “So you know all about me... and about my future destiny?”
She shook her head. “No... I've read samplings of it here and there, but I just couldn't bring myself to read all of them.” She reached forward and drew one of the volumes out, opening it to a certain part and handing it to me. “The accounts are fascinating... and I was able, even with just the limited perusal I made, to trace your development from the good-hearted young fae woman you are now to one of the greatest of the Faerie Queens that has ever lived.”
I looked into the book and found an account... this one... of the time I'd spent visiting Ozma for the... hopefully... first time. When I reached the time we were in at the moment she snatched the book away from me. “That's quite enough... for now.” She replaced it on the shelf and turned back to me.
“You'll know all of it in time. I could tell you more... but it's not yet time. You know as well as I that the spell I've cast removing Oz from even the Faerie Realm that contains other countries will eventually lift.”
I nodded. “Yes. Baum, the Royal Historian, wrote other books, ending with 'Glinda of Oz,' where you met—” I paused, shocked, as I finally realized who my three tutors on Mearbhall Island really were.
She lifted her hand. “I don't want to know. What is life without surprises? And speaking of surprises....” She came toward me and put her hands upon my shoulders. Then she gave me a deep kiss... one long and lingering, in such a way that I'd never felt before.
We made love that day in a way so unusual for me. Usually I was the giver... but with her.... She gave back to me, and my power rose and sang with her touches. I can't describe it, but I knew this was only the first for me... that I would return again and again, over the course of a very long life, to the arms of Glinda the Good, Sorceress, Good Witch of the South, and other titles that I can't yet reveal.
When we were done and had lain together just hugging and holding each other she got up and went to a cupboard nearby, pulling something out I couldn't quite see. “It's time Lurline... you must go now and live the life you must.” She frowned. “I'm sorry... I know many tragedies lie in store for you and much as I'd love to keep you here, for us to live together in my Realm...” ...her eyes misted over, tears almost flowing from them... “...I can't. Any more than you could have kept Princess Ozma, Jersey Irene and Necklaus of Barzai.”
She turned toward me and held the items she'd removed from the closet toward me. I gasped.
“The silver shoes!”
She nodded. “When Dorothy used them over a decade ago they fell off her as soon as she hit the desert's edge. I recovered them and have held them safe ever since. Their magic cannot be allowed to remain loose for any to use!”
I donned the shoes and they immediately shifted to fit my feet. “But how can I use them? I have no home to return to.”
She laughed. “But you do... you just don't know where it is yet. These will take you there.” She came close again, a sad look upon her face. “I—I'll see you again. I know that.” She looked far off. “The last time I saw you... you told me that you were going to your death... but that I'd meet your younger self. I'm glad that happened... but I'll still always miss the you that you'll become.” Then she smiled. “But I'll have the pleasure of watching you become the fine woman your future self will be.” And with those words she gave me her parting kiss.
“Happy Lurlinemas, Dion.” She stepped back. “Now it's time. Say the words.”
I giggled, saying, “and should I then say, SHAZ–“ at which she covered my mouth quickly, laughing.
Quickly settling down, I tapped the shoe heels together three times and said it:
“There's no place like home.”
In a paean of rainbow light so like the aura that I myself on occasion gave off, and the shoes themselves giving off such a bright ruby glow that they now looked like the ones from the movie, I vanished from that plane... traveling in one parallel where I could see where I was traveling beneath me. At the edge of the Great Sandy Waste the shoes fell off and I was whisked away, out of that Realm, and off to—
Ahh... but that's yet another story!
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