Chapter 2: A Quiet Afternoon
Kate broadcasts the note to everyone as they check out their rooms. "'O.Z.
Diggs' is the Wizard's real name," offers Gannar. Kate is vaguely
surprised; she had thought the wizard had returned to Earth in his balloon,
or done something else involving the phrase 'gone with the wind'. Gannar
then reports that he's getting chit-chat up and down the electromagnetic
spectrum, and we're pleased to think that Oz has reached the twenty-sixth
century, just like Tighmark.
Each of us gets three rooms in emerald green: a sitting room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. The rooms are tailored to each of us, so Daphne gets tiny furniture, and Robbie doesn't get a bed, etc. We each get six closets, though. One is empty, for our own clothes, and each of the others contains clothing suitable for each of the five lands of Oz. Daphne promptly digs a belled hat out of her Gillikin closet.
The view from our balconies is a vista of exquisite gardens. Several of us float or fly down to examine them more closely. We stroll from one patch of beautiful flowers to another. At a lovely goldfish pond, some of the goldfish wave at us. We wave back. There is a sparkling fountain with a plaque, "All persons are forbidden to drink from this fountain."
Robbie promptly buttonholes a passing gardener. "Why is that sign there?"
"Those are the Waters of Oblivion," he explains.
"What is their effect?" asks the eidolon.
"They produce total amnesia." The gardener forestalls the next question by explaining, "Invaders are encouraged to drink from it."
We nod, thank him, and pass on.
We sample the zoological gardens, with their snarling, but rooted, tiger lilies and dandelions. We manage to avoid the skunk cabbage. We encounter the stables next.
They are serenely opulent, faced with marble, and with silk-covered cushions scattered about. The stall for "C. Lion" is unoccupied, so we check it out. In addition to the pillows, there's a watering dish, a bookcase (wildlife studies, histories, and a binder labeled "Admin."), and a bellpush. The stall of "H. Tiger" features a barbecue grill, cookbooks, and magazines. The "Sawhorse" stall is quite austere, containing little beyond the Sawhorse.
"Good afternoon," says Robbie.
"Hello," replies the Sawhorse.
"Are you resting?" continues the former robot.
"I don't rest. I'm just waiting," explains the former carpenter's tool.
"Waiting for what?"
"The banquet. We're all invited, you know."
"Who else is here?" asks the tirelessly inquisitive one.
"Hank is next door. Hank?" There is no answer. "He's out."
The Sawhorse is easily persuaded to take us on a palace tour, although it is workmanlike rather than imaginative. The library attracts us immediately, and we find it contains works such as "A History of Ev" and "Gillikin Botanical Taxonomy." As at the embassy in Tyley, the art gallery is primarily portraits and statues, with Dorothy Gale, Princess Ozma, Ojo the Lucky, Button Bright of Philadelphia, etc. There is an idealized diptych showing the deaths of the Witches of the East and West.
Daphne sees a portrait of a high elf, with platinum hair and dark eyes. Daphne thinks she looks familiar, and asks, "Who's that?"
The Sawhorse explains. "That's Queen Lurline. She made Oz into a magical realm, and she sent us Ozma to rule us."
The pixie knows that elves don't just die. "Where is she?"
"No one knows. She disappeared, leaving King Pastoria, the old King of mundane Oz, to rule. Then, when he had no children, she returned with a fairy child, Ozma, for him to raise as his own. Eventually, they were both kidnapped. Ozma returned first, and became ruler in his place. He was eventually found, but he did not wish to be king, and so he's a tailor here in the Emerald City."
"Oh! I see it now!" exclaims Daphne, looking at Lurline in her mint green and rose gown, "She looks like Alvarin."
There are two black and white flat photographs on adjoining plinths. One is of an old man in a velvet jacket, labeled "Lyman Frank Baum 1856-1919, the Royal Historian of Oz." The other is a publicity photo of a young Judy Garland, inscribed "From 'Dorothy' to Dorothy -- Judy." We insist on learning the story behind that and are told that, one of the times Dorothy was in California, she went to Hollywood, and met Judy Garland. She was truthful, and said that her name was Dorothy, and that she loved Oz, and the movie. The autographed picture was the star's response.
We ask what Oz uses in place of the geas. The Sawhorse says that simply no one talks, since no one wants the realm to be overrun. We notice that the Sawhorse is wearing golden horseshoes, and Robbie asks why.
"I wear horseshoes so that my legs won't wear down. They're gold because gold is easy to work, and it's very common."
He leads us through several more rooms in the palace. They're all palatial. He informs us that the time for the banquet is approaching, and leads us to the staircase to our rooms.
At the landing halfway up, there is an animal head mounted on the wall. Its eyes follow us as we pass.
"Hi," says Robbie.
"Hello," replies the head.
"Tell me about yourself," invites the former robot.
"I am the Gump. I was mounted as a trophy head many years ago. Dorothy built me into an escape vehicle, made of two couches with palm fronds for wings, as its eyes. She sprinkled the device with the Powder of Life, and I came to life. I've been alive ever since."
In our rooms, we change for dinner. Those who have them, change into their uniforms. Robbie reupholsters himself in black with silver piping, but it doesn't feel quite right. He looks in the mirror, and sees that he's a black-and-silver Nick Chopper. This won't do, especially the nose. He changes again, and this time is satisfied with the result.
A gong sounds distantly, and we descend to dinner. Ushers escort us to our chairs. The seating arrangements place us each between Ozians, with Ozma at the head of the table. We can't see all the way to the end.
Kate is on Ozma's right hand and Dafnord is on Ozma's left. Next to Kate is a place set for "The Wizard". Looking down the table, we see that the place setting for those people, such as Robbie, who don't eat, have small flower arrangements instead of service plates. Robbie turns to the large, black beetle on his right, and says, "Hello."
The insect places a foreleg over its red and white striped underside, bows in place, and says, "Welcome to Oz."
"I am H.M. Wogglebug, T.E." Robbie soon learns that "T.E." stands for Thoroughly Educated, and that it is a well-earned title.
Robbie then sees our dragon, seated on a large mat and facing an exceptionally large plate, across from Markel, and essays an experiment. "Hi, Dragon."
"Hello," rumbles the beast in response.
"Have you always been able to talk, or is it being here?"
"Here, I think," it replies. Markel looks disconcerted; he is used to being the only one who can communicate with the dragon.
By now, almost everyone has been seated, and the food starts coming in. Ozma gently tings a spoon against her glass, then raises it. "A toast to our new friends from Lanthil." There are general cries of "Hear, hear" as the Ozians drink to us.
Kate then stands and raises her glass. "May the friendship between our two realms grow continuously."
Mr. Wogglebug describes the sources of their food, such as the pork chop tree, to the Lanthilor around him. He quietly explains to Robbie that he himself has invented a pill that can provide complete nourishment for a day, but that it is not very popular. Robbie expresses a degree of interest that the learned beetle finds gratifying, and gives our person a corked blue bottle labeled "Square Meal." Robbie shakes out a few of the pills and find that they are, as expected, square.
Dorothy turns to Daphne on her left, having failed at luring her other table partner into conversation, and asks her about Lanthil. The pixie gives her an almost coherent description of a land with a town and a castle, lots of normal trees, and then describes the lightfall. She tries to explain about the Marginalia, pointing out Angel, and their creative talents.
Dorothy is a bit stunned by the image. "Wow, that sounds very magical. Speaking of which, where's the Wizard?" She asks Ozma, who sends Jellia Jamb out to check. The child continues to chatter. "That's sort of odd. The Wizard's been talking a lot about Lanthil. He even talks of traveling there."
Jellia returns, and informs them, "There's no sign of the Wizard. Tik-Tok's up there, but he's run down.
Ozma calmly orders, "Wind him up and fetch him here."
The dinner guests return to their talk, but in a subdued form, waiting for the arrival of Tik-Tok. This is soon heralded by the loud clomping of his feet on the stairs.
The automaton announces to Ozma in a simple monotone, "I have important news to deliver. The Wizard has vanished. As part of his last experiment."
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.