Wendy found herself flailing through a rush of dry soil and dirt in her fall through the sinkhole, holding her breath so she would not take in any of the rushing soil around her. She was moving very, very fast, seemingly underground the entire time, although she could swear she also felt the rush of water around her during her queer journey as well. As had been mentioned, Wendy was no stranger to endurance, and she tried to remain calm as her fast movement continued. There was nothing much she could really do other than to wait until this rushing of dirt and dry soil stopped.
But it didn't.
She barely noticed that her path had first taken her down, and then to some side direction. She stayed that way, and her body kept moving in that direction.
A few minutes later, she felt her body angle upward in its path.
A few seconds later, she had been spat up from some manner of impression freshly made in the soil. Where this soil was, she had no idea, but she landed upon it with a *thump*.
Shaking her head vigorously in an attempt to get her senses back, Wendy scanned her surroundings. Judging by the position of the sun, it looked like wherever she was, it was sometime in the morning.
She had come up on what looked to be a forest of sorts, and with a relievedly cooler climate, at that. Rising from where she laid, Wendy began to dust the soil and dirt from her clothes, and out of her hair, making an effort to recover from the unexpectedly queer experience.
But where was she, exactly?
And how come the nearby grasslands were red?
And was anyone home at the nearby cottage?
Hunger, however, was to be the first order of business when Wendy had fully recovered from her unexpected ride. She had thought to perhaps see if anyone was home at the cottage, and perhaps ask if they could spare a bit of food.
But then, she saw that she had landed near a more robust crop of carrots. Rows upon rows of carrotheads could be seen upon the fresh-looking dark soil, green plummage fluffing out from the top of each carrot head.
Her first instinct, obviously, was to pull one, for she herself enjoyed raw carrots. At least one, hoping it would not be missed. She chose one at the very end and gave it a couple of tugs. The buried carrotstick easily pulled out of where it had been planted.
After wiping it down as thoroughly as possible, she bit the front of the large and tasty-looking carrot taproot and began chewing it, savoring its surprisingly good taste. She was quick to finish this particular meal, when she found herself wanting another one.
The second carrot she picked out, and tried to pull, however, would not budge at all. She tried pulling with all her might, then with two hands. This effort, unfortunately, resulted in the green plummage slipping out of her hands and she stumbled backward, landing upon the soft soil behind her.
When she looked up where she had landed, however, a long-eared, white-furred face was standing over her, staring back down at her with a frown on her muzzled, whiskered face. Her ears had been wrapped together to form a kind of topknot, and from the end of one of these furry ears hung a pair of feathers.
Wendy gasped in surprise!
And then, this apparently human-like, human-sized bunny began to literally speak to the young lady from Texas. "Hmmmm…what do we have here, eh?"
Wendy's eyes widened in disbelief. In her moment of surprise, she was struck speechless.
"Thought you could help yourself to a portion of my crop, young lady?" The bunny woman chided.
Finally, Wendy responded. "I…I'm sorry…I was hungry."
"Clearly." The bunny woman wryly remarked. "Do you plan on growing a new one for me? I had a perfect crop going here. Today was to be the day when I was going to pull them, in fact, and take them to Bunnybury. After I've stored my own portion, of course."
Wendy still seemed amazed. "Um…how is it…that…you can talk?"
The bunny woman tilted her head to the side, curiously. "Who are you, and where have you come from?"
"I'm Wendy. Wendy Wylie." The young woman responded. "I'm from Texas."
The bunny woman arched an eyebrow. "Oh? Another outsider? Well…at least you're from someplace other than Kansas, but how…" And then, the puzzled expression of the bunny wearing the elegant-looking red-and-brown gown melted to one of some disdain. "…oh, bother. The spell I was working on last night must have went wild. No wonder it didn't send Giddy out!"
Wendy blinked, entirely lost. "Giddy?"
"Oh, he's just a rather excitable acquaintance of mine." The bunny woman explained. "He got into a little trouble with the King of Bunnybury, so he asked me to fix him up a spell so he can go elsewhere for his carrots."
Wendy frowned in confusion. "Spell?"
The bunny woman smirked down at the young girl. "I'm a witch, dear. Minerva Mulch. It seems the witchcraft I was working on for Giddy got screwy and sent you on a little trip from your land of Texas to our land of Oz."
"Mm-hmm!" Minerva confirmed, pacing around Wendy and looking her over in a manner that seemed to worry the young girl. "I'm not the only creature of the forest that can talk, either. You'll find all manner of lions and tigers and bears here in the Quadling Forest…everywhere in Oz, in fact…can be likewise understood."
"Lions?" Wendy inquired, warily.
"And tigers." Minerva confirmed, holding a furry hand out so that Wendy could take it and pull herself up from the ground. "And bears."
"And…how is it that y' haven't been eaten yet?" Wendy inquired, patting and dusting herself off further.
"Well…for one thing, I do remember telling you that I am a witch, yes?" Minerva reminded, clasping her hands behind her. "And a very proud witch at that. Furthermore, you'll find that not all of the animals of the forests in Oz behave badly. In fact, some are quite reasonable when you give them a chance to explain themselves."
"So…I can talk a lion out of eatin' me?" Wendy inquired.
"The only lion I know of in these parts, in fact, has a reputation for being a coward." Minerva noted. Wendy couldn't help but giggle at this.
"Yet, this very same lion happens to be the King of all the beasts here in this forest, so I'll remind you to show some respect, young lady." Minerva scolded, wagging a finger at her while keeping her other hand behind her. "It's bad enough that you've stolen from my crop…" Minerva then arched an eyebrow. "…which brings me to what we're to do with you to fix this little blunder."
Wendy's eyes went to the side in thought, and then she looked back to the proud witch, giving her a sweet grin, not noticing that her two front teeth had grown a little larger. "Find a way to get me back home? Maybe?"
Minerva shook her head, smirking. "I'm incapable of producing magic effects that strong. Glinda the Good might know of a way, but she's a busy woman, and she usually keeps to herself in her palace, much like I do here. Never really involve myself in any matters outside of this farm and Bunnybury, which is not far from here. Now that you're here, however, and I can't immediately surmise any means of getting you back to Texas, I could use a helping hand."
Minerva still had one of her furry hands behind her, and she was rubbing at something that was hanging at her leather belt behind her, attached by a cord.
It was a rabbit's foot.
Wendy now looked uneasy, not feeling that her ears were growing longer as she spoke, and a pelt of soft brown and white fur began growing upon her skin. "Doin'…what?"
"Fixing my crops, of course." Minerva noted. "And not just the one you took and ate, but also the second crop you ruined when you came up out of the ground."
"But…that wathn't my fault!" Wendy lisped, for she was now buck-toothed.
"You're also treading all over a portion of that second crop with those shoes. Take them off!" Minerva scolded.
And when Wendy bent down to remove the shoes, she found that her five-fingered hands were now padded, pudgy, four-fingered ones, and covered in a thick pelt of fine white fur, each finger tipped with a small black claw. Her eyes widened in recognition of this, and she gasped loudly in shock.
Her head shot up to gaze at Minerva, as her twitching nose began to change to that of a bunny. "What're you doin' t' me?"
Minerva arched an eyebrow. "What makes you think I'm doing this to you?"
Whiskers were now growing in upon her upper lip. "Y' thaid you were a witch! OWW!"
Wendy felt the crunching pressure in her feet. She needed to free them, for they were changing as well. She quickly removed both shoes and socks, the socks already ripped open, and saw her feet blossom and expand in a flare of soft brown and white fur as the front portions of her feet painlessly stretched out, her legs becoming digitigrade.
"Oh yes, silly me. I almost forgot." Minerva wryly remarked, clearly toying with this wayward thief. "No doubt that would explain what is happening to you, eh?"
The pressure didn't end with her feet, however, for her jeans now seemed to be struggling to hold her expanding thighs and her posterior, and there was a significant bump of pressure right at the base of her spine.
Minerva caught this, and quickly moved to grab Wendy's arm. "Hmmm…we'd better get you into a change of more appropriate clothes. Wooden closet to the left, there should be a dress there and an apron that should fit you. Work fast."
Minerva closed the door behind a wide-eyed Wendy…whose face was pushing out into a cute bunny muzzle…and waited outside, a devious, amused smile on her face.
Despite what was happening to Wendy, however, Minerva could not be considered wicked, and was not considered as such among the people of Bunnybury. If her comforts and/or her exacting standards were ever violated, however, and she could do something to set things right? She would. No matter how radical it needed to be. This was no doubt why the people of Bunnybury were very careful with their words and deeds when they were around Minerva.
At the moment, of course, she needed to restore her violated crops, and she wasn't about to fix this problem by herself. Not again. Granted, the sorcerous experimentation that brought this young girl to Oz was Minerva's doing, but…she was just too proud to fix the ruined patch on her own.
Besides…she now had help. It then occurred to Minerva that the girl needed training, but the witch was unaware that Wendy had farming talent, and she would be able to fix the damage to the entire patch by nightfall.
That would, however, impress Minerva in such a way that she would want Wendy to become her permanent servant…but the crafty witch would not explain that part. Best to keep her hopeful, she thought. Keep her believing that she could earn a way back home.
Finally, after some time had passed, Wendy emerged, wearing a dull brown dress which indeed fit her perfectly(although Minerva's magic subtly saw to this), and she had a clean white apron tied around her furry waist. Her transformation was complete, and the new bunny girl was a bit nervous and awkward with every step of her now digitgrade feet and legs, clearly amazed at what had so unexpectedly happened to her. She brought one of her bunny hands up to scratch an itch at her head, upon which her long, curly red hair was still intact.
"Everything you'll need is in the shed behind the cottage." Minerva instructed. "Judging by the way you were dressed, I'm guessing you have farming experience?"
Wendy nodded her head slowly, still awed over what had happened to her. The soft brown and white fur all over her body was surprisingly warm and comfy compared to having bare skin. She couldn't help but admit to herself how nice it felt.
"Good. I want this entire patch here fixed." Minerva ordered. "Do a good enough job, and I will consider restoring your human form and perhaps we can pay a visit to Glinda the Good…or perhaps even the Princess Ozma of Oz, in the Emerald City…to see about returning you to Texas."
Minerva, in fairness, helped Wendy to get accustomed to her new form as she went right to work. The former girl knew she had done wrong in stealing the carrot, so she did not feel as if she were entirely wronged by what the witch had done to her. She felt inclined to make amends, and she had the fortunate distinction of having the skills to do just that. Indeed, by nightfall, Wendy's work had restored the crop, with fresh plantings that had been carefully watered.
Minerva then instructed her new help in the cooking of meals, and the cleaning of the cottage. For every protest, Minerva reminded her new servant that only she could restore her human form, and this was always enough to convince Wendy to keep working. The work was not terribly strenuous, though. It was nothing she could not handle, nor have a lot of trouble with.
She could even get used to it.
They had a nice dinner that evening, and Minerva decided to learn more about this girl, and more about where she had come from. Wendy obliged, although she seemed entirely distant as she spoke. She missed her real mother. She never knew her father, for he had passed away before she was born, and the circumstances behind her mother's passing remained a mystery. Her foster parents treated her well, but she always felt alone in spite of this. Their influence, however, was enough to teach her responsibility, though, through her farm chores.
It was perhaps by virtue of Wendy's somewhat sad story of a lonely and entirely unenchanting life that Minerva felt inclined to compliment her new servant on having done such a good job in fixing the carrot crops, and having cooked such a delicious meal, and having cleaned so thoroughly around the cottage. "You deserve to be around more of your people than just me, Wily Wendy. Tomorrow, I shall take you with me to Bunnybury."
"Why do you call yourthelf a proud witch?" Wendy asked.
"Well…I cannot rightfully call myself a good witch, because I mostly keep to myself, and I don't help others much." Minerva explained. "But I certainly can't call myself a bad witch, for I am not terribly wicked. But I do take a lot of pride in my 'craft, so it seems logical that I refer to myself as a proud witch. Does this make sense to you, Wily Wendy?"
Wendy nodded. "Tho where am I going to thleep?"
"Oh, I'll have a bed conjured for you." Minerva noted. "I think you've earned a comfortable bed after doing such a good job for me today. Just don't go slipping away on me during the night. Remember…I'm the only one who can break this spell I've cast upon you."
Wendy nodded. "I won't leave."
"Oh, and one other thing, Wily Wendy." Minerva added, sternly gazing upon her new servant. "Since I am a proud witch, I would have you respect this and refer to me as 'Miss Minerva' from now on when you acknowledge me. Is this understood?"
Wendy again nodded. "Yeth, Mith Minerva."
Minerva smirked. "Close enough." She then rose from her seat. "Come now, Wily Wendy. Let's teach you a few more things to do while you are here. Follow me into the living room."
"Yeth, Mith Minerva." Wendy rose up, but did not immediately move from her spot. She instead looked to her posterior, where a hole in her dress had allowed for her bunny tail to fluff through. She stared at it for a long moment, giving the thick, soft, creampuff-shaped tuft of white fur a few curious rubs, still amazed that she actually had a bona-fide tail.
Minerva caught this, turning back to her new bunny girl, and walked back over to rub and scratch a padded hand around the side of her furry neck. The warmth this rubbing provided felt quite luxurious, and Wendy closed her eyes as she invited the warmth, moaning softly.
"Do you think you could get used to being a bunny, dear?" Minerva teased.
Wendy did not immediately answer, to which Minerva unexpectedly pulled her new bunny girl into a warm and tight hug. Wendy hesitantly wrapped her arms around the proud witch, hugging her back, for this was a much more pleasant warmth to be felt in this embrace. She found herself wanting to stay in this embrace for hours, for their bodies were so soft and fluffy.
Minerva brought her mouth over to one of Wendy's long, floppy ears.
"Consider yourself forgiven for the carrot you stole, Wily Wendy." The witch whispered.
Minerva then brought the bunny girl into the living room to begin her embroidery lessons.
Four months, it would take, for the fresh carrot crops to grow.
Four months stranded in this place called Oz.
She had wondered how her foster parents, the Waldens, would react to her disappearance, but they were so dreadfully neutral in demeanor, and so routine and old-fashioned in their daily behavior, that her disappearance might not truly affect them as much as she would hope. They were just so lost in their daily farming routine and business manners…and the occasional festivals and market visits…that it seemed as if Wendy's presence was almost secondary. She liked them, and they never showed any miserly behavior towards her, but…they just didn't have the time, or even the interest, to engage in anything aside from generally pleasant relations, and their day-to-day business concerns, which Wendy had been so dutiful in her desire to help them by way of her farm chores.
But now, she was gone from that remote farmhouse. Claimed by the sudden appearance of a sinkhole which had rushed her, in a wildly queer and extravagant fashion, to this entirely different land of witches, princesses, and talking animals.
A land where a Cowardly Lion ruled as King of the beasts of the Quadling Country. Where she was told a man made entirely of tin was proclaimed Emperor of the western Winkie Country. Where a man of straw apparently had the best brains a wonderful Wizard of Oz could possibly give him, and where an 11 year old girl from Kansas had also been stranded, only to find a means of getting back home with the help of Glinda the Good.
The cottage in the southern Quadling Country, and the farming area that surrounded it, was rather remote, and a good distance from civilized settlements. Still…they were at the edge of the Quadling Forest, and upon fertile farming grounds. Wendy had wondered why the proud witch she served did not use her magic to increase the time spent growing her carrots to perfection, but the bunny girl had surmised that the witch simply preferred the natural approach to farming her carrot crops.
The embroidery lessons Minerva taught her new bunny servant was admittedly tough for Wendy to figure out given her now three-fingered, padded and pudgy hands, but Minerva had shown her a few natural tricks to be able to accomplish such skills, and the proud witch was thankfully quite patient with her new servant, never getting terribly irritated, nor scolding Wendy with any severity over every little mistake. All things considered, Wendy's living conditions in her forced exile were…comfortably fair, for the short time she had spent thus far since emerging from the other end of the enchanted sinkhole's path. During her lessons, Minerva had told her all about the man of straw, the man made of tin, and the lost Kansas girl whose name was Dorothy Gale.
But for all the amazing tales Minerva shared, it was Wendy's own transformation into a bunny girl that continued to amaze Wendy.
As Minerva busied herself with the elaborate ritual required to transform a bundle of logs and cloth into a comfortable bed for her servant, Wendy just stood in front of a long mirror in the living room and just stared at herself.
Stared at her twitchy nose.
Her two buck teeth, which enforced the cute lisp in her speech.
Her long, floppy bunny ears.
The creampuff-shaped tail at her posterior.
The uniquely-formed digitigrade legs that she was still getting accustomed to.
All that soft, fine, thick brown and white fur all over her body.
She also felt along the dull brown dress she was given, with the shoulder-strap top and the long-skirted bottom. It was comfortable and loose enough for her to work in, even if it was plain and unspectacular. Wendy was never one to fret about fashion, though. If it didn't get in the way of the work she was so used to doing, she was content.
Wendy finally saw a flash of light emerge from the area of the cottage that Minerva had picked to be her bedroom, and the proud witch called her servant over to enter her new living quarters for the first time.
Indeed, Minerva had arranged living quarters that were quite agreeable to Wendy. A single large window looked out upon both the forest's edge, and the country that loomed beyond it. Some distance away, the view revealed the presence of a beautiful and spectacular city glowing with an emerald green radiance. A desk was near the very comfy-looking bed, and her embroidery materials had been relocated here so she could practice whenever she wished.
"Get plenty of rest now, Wily Wendy." Minerva advised, using the pet name she slyly gave her, which Wendy didn't seem to mind. "Tomorrow, you will be visiting Bunnybury for the first time, and I guarantee you will not be disappointed."
But Wendy was looking out the window towards the glowing green city in the distance. "What plath ith that?"
Minerva smirked. "That is the Emerald City. It is located in the exact center of the land of Oz. From there, the lands are split into four territories. To the north, the Gillikin Country." She then gestured westward. "To the east, the Munchkin Country..." Minerva then gestured east. "…to the west, the Winkie Country, and to the south…"
"The Quadlin' Country. That'th uth." Wendy remembered aloud.
Minerva smiled. Wendy, however, found the witch's perspective on the east and the west directions immediately confusing, which the proud witch seemed to pick up on as her servant frowned and began to speak, but Minerva raised a furry hand in restraint. "Here in Oz, the distinctions of east and west have been reversed from the way you perceive it in lands like Texas and Kansas." Minerva shrugged. "That is just how it is in our lands."
Wendy's head tilted to the side, her gaze going back to the Emerald City. "Can we vithit there thomeday thoon?"
Minerva rolled her eyes, but gave the matter serious consideration. "We'll see just how well you do around here, and in Bunnybury tomorrow. If you can put up with the work I give you to my satisfaction, we will go and pay a visit to the Emerald City, and I will introduce you to the Princess Ozma, the fairy who rules all of Oz."
"Are there nith people in the Emerald Thity? Ith Othma nice?"
"Oh, they're all quite respectable, Wily Wendy. Particularly Ozma." Minerva remarked. "If you ever meet them, I'm sure you will find them most pleasant…except maybe the Wizard, who is a bit of a humbug."
"I hope I meet them thomeday, then." Wendy noted. "Even the Withard."
"The Wizard? He wasn't even a proper wizard! He was a fake! No magic powers. Just a lot of tricks and deception." Minerva lamented. "I'm amazed they wanted him back in Oz…but, well, that's Princess Ozma's thing. I'm sure she'll realize, in time, that inviting him back here was a mistake."
Minerva then looked to Wendy thoughtfully. "I'm surprised you're not more eager to meet Glinda the Good."
"I do want to meet her, Mith Minerva." Wendy chimed. "But…I wanna earn it."
Minerva nodded. "And the only way you can do that is if you continue to spend your time with me as my fluffy bunny girl." Minerva noted.
Wendy lowered her head a little. "Yeth, Mith Minerva."
The proud witch smiled, rubbing tenderly at her servant's soft brown and white fur. "Climb into your new bed, Wily Wendy. I've no doubt you will find it very, very comfortable. It's right by the window, too, so the rays of the morning sun will always stir you from your good night's sleep."
Minerva helped her get under the covers, since she had yet to get used to having digitigrade feet. Once she was under the covers, the bed was indeed very, very comfortable. Between the covers and her thick bunny fur, she was in such a perfectly warm and luxurious wrap of absolute comfort that it was easy for her to lapse into a deep sleep.
Minerva just stared at her sleeping servant for a time, considering all that had happened since discovering this once-human thief who had stolen and eaten one of her fresh and properly-grown carrots. She had rationalized the necessity to change the girl, but she wondered what kind of consequences she could incur from either Glinda or Ozma if they ever discovered what she had done, assuming they weren't already aware. She also wondered how long it would take before the proud witch would deem it necessary to keep the bunny girl submissive to her desires using her witchcraft, or even to keep the bunny girl from entertaining silly thoughts of becoming human again and being sent back home. She was indeed talented, this one, turning an embarrassing mess…which Minerva knew was her own fault…into a restored carrot patch by the time the sun had set. Wendy rarely complained, as well. She just set to every task without a single protest, so long as she knew what was expected of her.
Although the proud witch would maintain Wendy's responsibility for her new chores around the farm and the cottage, Minerva also resolved to set a day aside so that she and her servant would indeed pay the Emerald City a visit, as Wendy wished, for she knew good work required the benefit of a reward.
But not before she would bring her servant to Bunnybury for the very first time.
Proud of her own unspoken sentiments, Minerva likewise settled into her own bed and quickly fell asleep.