Chapter 1: Diplomats in Oz
During our stay, we engage in some training, brushing up on old skills,
and learning new ones. In return for their help in animating her new
pet, Daphne teaches the Oakleys the skill of producing and transferring
barkskin. We spend a lot of time talking about local customs, and
listening to excited stories of the development of their little Koli.
Later in the evenings, we excuse ourselves and retire to our own area.
Some of us watch the vids, but a lot of us listen to Gannar read one of
the Oz stories out loud. We are impressed with how magical the entire
After several days, Tom Brightman and another Warder bring a tall, skinny fellow into the house, and ask Salimar in particular to join them. She does, with Robbie and Kate trailing. It is the Hedley Kow, and a sorry-looking creature he is, in his antique handcuffs that look to be true wrought Cold Iron. He has been questioned by them, and he repeats his answers, held by an elvish oath, to Salimar. He insists that he was only flirting with her. The alien is far from convinced, and asks him about his attempt to strangle her. He insists that it was only meant as a caress, and that he did not realize how strong he was. Salimar decides not to press charges, but she does indulge her curiosity. She had the Hedley Kow show off all his shapeshifting capabilities, each one several times, with many variations. She finds it very instructive, and learns that he uses an interesting combination of first and second order glamour, combined with genuine shapeshifting. Eventually, when he is more than tired, she agrees to his release. They go outside, where the Warders remove his handcuffs. He promptly changes into a crow, and flaps wearily off.
As our stay at Aikenyard grows longer, the Oakleys' requests for us to stay on grow thinner and more perfunctory. The Lanthilor decide that two weeks is quite long enough, and we tell our hosts that we will be leaving at the end of that time. They express some real disappointment, and we judge that we have timed our stay well.
Our rental car arrives on the morning of our departure. We stow our luggage, have a last, light lunch with our hosts (Chocolate cake disappeared from the menu when the Vespers left the previous week.), and say our goodbyes. Gannar has communed with the autopilot, and we are soon aloft on an uneventful drive to Tyley.
We settle back in to the top floor of the same hotel we used before, and promptly call the Oz Embassy. Formal pleasantries are exchanged, and an appointment is arranged for us for 10 AM the next morning. We also get exact directions to the embassy. We then call our contact number for the Tighmark government, to let them know where we are, and what we intend to do next. They are gratified by our consideration, and have no warnings or advice for us.
We hit the shops with our customary enthusiasm. Salimar, Kate, and Daphne all buy some new frocks (Daphne gets them in both her sizes.), and Kate buys some slacks and shirts. We revisit the travel agency to pick up some brochures on Oz, but rely on the bookstore for full disclosure. Gannar gets the most fully loaded mediacard they have; it has the forty original books, the twenty- three follow-ons, the original silent movie, the musical version (20th century), the straight version (21st century), the Broadway musical, the series of holovision commercials, the local Toto- lookalike contest, etc.
After dinner that evening, we visit the choiry, where Daphne, in her green robes and with her panpipes, joins in the singing of the Covenant. After that, the choir sings some other songs, just for the joy of singing, before returning to the Covenant. One helpful person does recall that they sang a set of English nursery rhymes several years before, and that it did include the "Song of Sixpence."
The next morning, we wend our way to Leffey Street before ten o'clock. It's near the palace, but is a small, obscure road, easy to miss. Presumably mundanes do inevitably miss it. Number Five has no sign, or soldiers on guard, just a gate in the wall with lots of entwined "O"s and "Z"s in the ironwork. The gate is unlocked, and we step inside. There is an extensive flower garden, with sections in yellow, purple, blue, and red surrounding one in emerald green. The sections are separated by paths of yellow brick. The embassy itself is an Empire-style house. We are greeted by a young lady, who introduces herself, and then escorts us in to meet Ambassador Quindeller.
The decor inside is primarily green, with the entwined "Oz" symbol found in a surprising number of places. Quindeller himself is in purple. He is wearing sort-of Elizabethan dress, but with pointy shoes, and a hat whose brim is hung with bells. He has fair skin, black hair and purple eyes, and so we can identify him as a Gillikin.
He doffs his hat with a faint jingle, and hangs it up. "I'm very pleased to meet you." With a gesture, he leads us into a room that has the right number of chairs for us all, and a mat for the mastiff, who obligingly curls up on it. Introductions are performed all around, and then we engage in the small talk of diplomacy as we drink tea and lemonade. Quindeller acknowledges our efforts on behalf of the Oakleys, but gives no hint that any such thing would be expected of us in Oz. Before we get around to actually discussing the treaty, the ambassador invites our questions about Oz itself.
"How do people get there?" asks Daphne.
"Well, it used to be easier to get there by accident," admits Quindeller, "but it's now far less likely. I leave from the embassy itself, but most people use one of the three transfer points on the western side of Tighmark. The three gates are all on minor roads, and they all lead directly to the Emerald City."
Kate hands him the draft treaty. Before he starts to read it, he explains that he is expecting a royal call (He looks up at the portrait of a pretty twelve-year old girl with a dainty crown, and a red poppy tucked over each ear.) and that it will be part of our meeting. Princess Ozma would like to meet us in person, and the call will, in part, be to set up that meeting. The net is up, so Kate polls everyone to find out how they feel about a visit to Oz before returning to Lanthil. All are amenable.
Quindeller explains a little about the Ozian court. The princess is addressed as "Your Majesty" but there is little actual ceremony in the court. They are used to the presence of eccentrics, and so treat them as part of the normal order, rather than as disruptions of normality. Our realization that this is supposed to be comforting to us flicks across the net.
Robbie asks about members of the court. Quindeller explains that while Ozma remains primarily in the Emerald City, with her son, Jack Pumpkinhead lives outside the City, nearby. Scraps the Patchwork Girl, many chickens, a sawhorse, two cats (Dorothy's own cat and a glass cat) and the Cowardly Lion are all in residence there. The Scarecrow is also often there, and the Tin Woodman is endlessly coming and going. "I assume that you are all used to a great variety of... people. Please do not be taken aback by any of our folk."
Quindeller and Kate put their heads together over the treaty. He makes a few minor corrections, as a bored Daphne dangles a ribbon for her pet plant. The ambassador finishes his work, and tucks it into a cubby on his desk. "Would you care for a tour of the embassy? There is just time before my call from Ozma, and the artwork here can form a quick introduction to the court of Oz."
We agree, and spend nearly half an hour strolling through the spacious, pretty building. There is a full length portrait of Glinda, looking rather like an adult version of Ozma done in red. The woodman and the scarecrow are rendered as statues. Less explicably, there is a pair of oil paintings: the lion with an enormous pink bow in its mane and a tiger with a blue bow on its tail
Then it is time for the call from Ozma, and we return to the ambassador's office. The chairs we used are gone. Quindeller stands in front of his desk, facing the portrait of Ozma. Suddenly the portrait vanishes, and in its place is a live image of Ozma herself. She greets us all, and we respond in turn. Quindeller says, "The preliminary version of the treaty between Oz and Lanthil is ready, Your Majesty." He holds it out. Ozma touches the broad, heavy- looking gold belt that she wears, and the treaty appears in her hand.
The princess, as expected, invites us to visit her realm. Kate accepts on our behalf, and indicates that we should be pleased to spend any time from minutes to weeks in Oz, and that we are willing to come whenever it is convenient for Her Majesty. She suggests a stay of a few days, to begin the next morning at this time, and we accept. Ozma ends the conversation, and the portrait returns.
Quindeller looks very happy. He assures us that Ozma is very pleased, and that seems to please him very much. He escorts us out. Robbie remarks that the belt the queen was wearing must be a very powerful artifact. The ambassador agrees, briefly and repressively explaining that there have been wars fought for its possession. "Ozma won them."
We enjoy our last day in Tyley, with an evening at the theater to round it out. A few phone calls assure that our departure is smooth. Our rental car leaves us and our luggage at the gate on Leffey Street at 10:45, where we are met by a warder in red and green. He effortlessly removes the geas from each of us, and says. "Thank you for your cooperation. I hope you enjoyed your stay in Tyley."
Again we are let into Quindeller's office, this time carrying our bags. We arrange ourselves facing the portrait, and wait expectantly.
"Good morning," Princess Ozma greets us.
"Good morning, Your Majesty."
"I have arranged a place for you, and for some friends to meet you," she says, and touches her belt.
We are now standing in a sunny countryside, facing a very large carriage, decorated in red, on a yellow brick road. Standing, facing us is a smiling girl about eight years old, wearing a lopsided coronet. Seated inside the carriage is a scarecrow, a tin man, and a small black dog. A large lion, wearing a pink bow in its hair and somehow smiling, is sitting next to it. The assemblage is harnessed to an animated sawhorse. The grass beside the road is aqua, sprinkled with blue wildflowers.
"Hi, I'm Dorothy Gale," says the child.
The irrepressible Robbie asks, "The Dorothy Gale?"
"Yes. We're going to take you to the Emerald City. You could have started there, but Ozma wanted you to view some of the country first. Let me introduce you to my friends. This is the Sawhorse, who's pulling the carriage, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, Nick Chopper, and Toto."
Each person nods as he is introduced, except for Toto, who says "Hi."
We stow our luggage, while the dragon's ripcord is pulled and he gets to stretch his wings. The pixie's plant is retrieved from its dirt-sampling expedition. Our winged companion settles on the far side of the carriage from the lion, and the rest of us clamber on board. The sawhorse struggles against our great inertia, but soon has us moving briskly up a slight slope.
Robbie asks the Tin Woodman if he's an android, a robot, or a cyborg. Nick Chopper is baffled by the question. Gannar intervenes and says "cyborg" comes closest.
We crest the hill to discover that there is a procession on the crossroads below us. The people are all dressed in white, carrying garden implements, with headgear like rose petals in different colors, and their faces are beautiful but expressionless. Dorothy explains that these are the Mangaboes, and that they are not natives of Oz. They used to live in caverns, where they grew vegetables, but they were being killed by invisible bears, so they were invited to come to Oz, and raise vegetables here instead. "They are a very neat and careful people," the Scarecrow remarks.
As we get closer, we realize that the sawhorse now has too much momentum, and will not be able to stop the carriage before we reach the crossroads. "Hey!" shouts the Scarecrow. "Make way for the royal carriage of Oz!" None of the Mangaboes change their pace.
"They're not easily excited," explains Dorothy.
We aren't either, but we can still tell that there will be great carnage if the carriage plows into the procession. With telekinesis and physical force, we bring the carriage to a stop a few yards from the intersection. We wait for the procession to finish passing us.
Again the sawhorse hauls the enormous carriage up to speed (with a little help from the lion and us). Robbie asks why they don't use a vehicle with an engine. Dorothy looks uncomfortable, and tries to explain. "This is the royal carriage."
"It's a ceremonial thing?" asks the robot.
The scenery has slowly changed around us. The grass is now green, with scatterings of tiny white flowers. The landscape is dotted with green and white domed buildings with two chimneys each. We are told that they are farmhouses.
We swoop around a large curve and there, in front of us, is the fabled Emerald City of Oz. Indeed, the walls and towers and buildings are green and gleaming. As we approach it, the gates open for us, and we proceed through the city on a green road to the palace. There are people watching us, so we wave, while the lion nods his great head and grins. The sawhorse brings the carriage to a stop right in front of the palace.
It is done in the same Empire style as its embassy, but it is made entirely of green crystal. We are met by a single tall, thin soldier with a long green beard and moustache, who salutes us. The uniformed members of our party return the salute. We are led into the palace, and to the throneroom of Ozma.
"Welcome to Oz," announces its Ruler.
"Greetings, Your Majesty, from the realm of Lanthil," responds Katherine Carter, Envoy.
"We hope that our two realms will have a long and fruitful relationship," continues Ozma. "We hope that, after you have been shown to your rooms and had a chance to freshen up, you will join us for our next meal. We have prepared a great feast for you."
We smile and bow, and are led to our rooms by the housekeeper, Jellia Jamb. As she shows us in, she hands Kate a letter. As soon as the door closes, the elf rips it open:
I look forward to our meeting with great anticipation. -- O. Z. Diggs
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.