Disclaimer: Spyro the Dragon is copyrighted to Universal.

Chapter 17: There's No Place Like Home

Hunter and company made their way through the bustling crowds of Gemcutters and approached an enormous door that had a sign posted next to it: "Wizard Residence."

Just before Hunter had a chance to knock, another flap in the door opened followed by a Gemcutter's head poking out.

"What do you want?"

"We wish to see the Wizard," Spyro explained immediately.

"The Wizard?" The Gemcutter repeated with a sneer. "But no one can see the Great Oz! I haven't even seen him!"

"Then how do you know there even is a Wizard of Oz?" Ripto challenged.

"I-I—just because!" the little mouse huffed, at a loss for better words.

"Please let us in," Bentley asked.

"No!" And with that, the Gemcutter slammed the opening shut.

"Now what are we supposed to do?" Hunter sighed.

"Here's a suggestion—hand over the ruby skateboard."

"Ahhh!" Screams erupted through the city as fleeing Gemcutters took cover. "It's the Sinister Sorceress of the South!" Hunter and his friends turned around to find that the Sorceress had indeed decided to appear in the middle of the city.

"No, I want to see the Wizard first!" Hunter shouted stubbornly. "I'm not about to give it over that easily!"

"And just how do you plan to stop me?" the Sorceress smirked and pointed her egg-tipped staff at them.

"Tell me when it's over!" Spyro mumbled, covering his eyes with his clawed front feet.

"Wait!" Bentley exclaimed. "We never even got to have lunch!"

"How can you think of lunch at a time like this?" Ripto asked in disbelief.

"You're right," Hunter reached behind his back and pulled out a jar of mayonnaise. "I was saving this for our sandwiches."

"Is that mayonnaise?" The Sorceress peered at the label nervously.

"Yeah, see?" The cheetah tossed the jar to her, but instead of catching it, she stepped back and it smashed on the floor, its contents spilling all over.

"No!" The Sorceress screamed as the mayonnaise covered her feet. "I'm melting! I'm melting!" Before anyone could comment on the strangeness of the situation, the evil dinosaur sank into the ground and disappeared.

"Oops…" Hunter muttered.

"So…. Can we eat lunch now?" Bentley asked.

"Here's her staff," Ripto said as he picked it the weapon up and examined it curiously.

"Are we dead yet?" Spyro peeked cautiously out from between his claws. "Hey, what—where'd she go?"

"Is that the staff of the Sinister Sorceress of the South?" The Gemcutter doorkeeper had reopened the flap and was now gazing at them in amazement.

"It sure is," Ripto replied.

"I bet the Wizard would be pleased to meet the ones who vanquished the Sorceress. You can go on in."

"Sure," Bentley whispered to Spyro as they walked through the vast door they had arrived at earlier, "Now he let's us in."

After continuing down a long hallway, the group entered a large circular chamber that had a red carpet draped over its floor.

"Who dares disturb the Great Oz?" A furious voice boomed throughout the room as a giant head appeared out of thin air ahead of them, and hovered in the center of the chamber. The features of the face seemed to be dragon-like but they were slightly blurred, causing it to be impossible to tell for sure. "Well?"

Hunter stepped forward apprehensively. "Please, sir. I-I'm Hunter the cheetah and we've come to—"

"Silence! I know exactly why you have come! You want to be transported back home."

"Yes, please," Hunter daringly continued. "If you don't mind that's what I'd like you to—"

"Yes I do mind!" the Wizard interrupted him again. "Why should I send you home? And you, Yeti! How dare you come to ask me for a brain! Or you, Riptoc, to beg me for a heart!" The Wizard turned to glare at Spyro. "And you, Dragon!" Spyro stepped up next to Hunter to reluctantly face 'the Great Oz'. The little purple dragon looked absolutely petrified. "Well?" Spyro gave out a feeble mumble and then promptly fainted on the spot.

"How could you?" Bentley asked. "Making a poor dragon faint like that!"

As an argument between the Wizard and the Yeti broke out, Hunter suddenly noticed something odd in the corner of the room—there was a red curtain with shoes… What a minute… Curtains don't wear shoes… Hunter realized. He crept over to the curtain and pulled it open. The Wizard and the others stopped shouting to look over at the bear standing where the hanging fabric had been moments before. In its hand it held a fancy microphone-like device.

"Er… Pay no attention to the bear behind the curtain," the Wizard and the bear said at the same time.

"Hey," Bentley said. "Why is he saying the same thing the Wizard says?"

"Who are you?" Ripto asked.

"Moneybags?" Hunter's mouth was hanging open. "Is that you?"

"Alright, alright!" The bear admitted. "You've found me out—I'm the Wizard… Well, I'm his voice at least…"

"So there really wasn't a Wizard!" Hunter suddenly put two and two together. "Now I'll never get home!"

"And I'll never get any courage!" Spyro cried.

"And I won't get a heart!" Ripto said.

"Or a brain!" Bentley added.

"You came all this way for those things?" Moneybags asked.

"Yeah…" They all answered in unison.

"Perhaps I can still give you all what you wanted… for a small fee, or course."

"What?" Ripto exclaimed angrily. "Fine! Here's your 'fee'!" He threw the Sorceress' staff at the bear. Moneybags stared at the weapon, considering it for a moment.

"Alright, let me see what I can do…" He walked over to Bentley. "Here is a diploma—" Bentley just looked at it. "Well, are you going to take it or not? Because there's a staring fee." The Yeti took it and Moneybags continued on over to Spyro. "For you I have a medal for bravery, and for you Ripto…" He pulled out a pocket watch. "It's not exactly a heart, but you can hear it tick—kind of like a real heart thumping."

"What about me?" Hunter asked excitedly. "Bian—I mean, Glinda gave me this ruby skateboard. She said you might know how it can take me home."

"Er—I'm afraid I don't know how to work it," Moneybags' reply was met with disappointed groans. "But have to tried sitting on it?"

So, looking highly skeptical, Hunter sat on the skateboard and waited. "Nope. Nothing."

"How about dancing with it?" Ripto teased.

"Maybe if I want something hard enough, it'll let me have it…" the cheetah balanced the skateboard on his head (for reasons nobody even attempted to guess). "There's no place like home, there's no place like home…" Hunter repeated this until he heard gasps from his friends. Glancing around, he saw that he was beginning to disappear. "I think it's working!"

We'll miss you, Hunter!" Spyro waved.

"Come back soon!" Bentley nodded, bopping Ripto on the head until he waved as well.

Hunter opened his eyes and found himself in the RV surrounded by all of his friends. "Hey, guys! Did you miss me?"

"Hunter, are you okay?" Agent 9 asked.

"What kind of a question is that?" Gnasty Gnorc scoffed. "Of course he's not okay—he just got knocked out by a steering wheel!"

"Wow, I had the weirdest dream!" Hunter exclaimed. "You were there, and you, and you too…" He pointed to his closest pals in turn. "Wait, it was a dream, right?" One way to find out… Hunter reached behind his back, pulled out a jar of mayonnaise and chucked it at the Sorceress.

"Hunter! Aargh!" Realizing that she hadn't melted, Hunter bolted out the RV door with the angry dinosaur in hot pursuit.

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