A Goddess in Oz

Mark A Davis / Miko


Far away from the world that we know, yet close for those who have a warm heart and an adventurous spirit, there exists a magical fairy land known as Oz. It is surrounded by the Deadly Desert, whose sands are so toxic that they kill anything they touch. Nor does Oz appear on any map, for it is protected from discovery by powerful magic. Yet many have travelled from our world to Oz. If you have read any of the books detailing their adventures, then you know a bit about Oz already.

Oz is divided into four countries. To the North is the land of the Gillikin people, sometimes referred to as the Land of Purple Mountains. The people there favor the color purple, and are ruled by Joe King and Queen Hyacinth. To the South is the land of the Quadlings, sometimes called Rosewood Meadows. Here they favor the color red, and are ruled by Glinda the Good, the most powerful sorceress in Oz. To the East lies the country of the Munchkins, sometimes called the Land of Sky Blue Waters. Blue is the color they favor, and their rulers are King Cheeriobed and Queen Orin. In the West is the land of the Winkies, a people who favor the color yellow. Their Emperor is Nick Chopper, the Tin Woodsman, who dwells in a castle of tin. Their country is sometimes referred to as the Golden West.

In the center of Oz is the Emerald City, where green is the favored color. Here is where Ozma resides, the fairy Princess who is acknowledged supreme ruler over the land of Oz. Many others dwell in this city who are either famous or remarkable, or often both. These include the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, the Sawhorse, Scraps the Patchwork Girl, Jack Pumpkinhead, H.M. Wogglebug, T.E., and too many others to name. But of course, if you have heard of anyone in Oz, then it is Dorothy, the little girl who once lived in Kansas but who is now a Princess in Oz and Ozma's very best friend.

Princess Dorothy has a large and lavish suite within the royal palace that is second only to Ozma's, and at the moment that is exactly where she was, asleep in her bed. A small black dog was asleep next to her. This would have been normal, except that it was late afternoon, and Dorothy never slept so late.

In fact, the entire palace was as quiet as a cave. There were no people discussing matters of state within the throne room, nor were any children or animals at play in the gardens. No chambermaids could be seen cleaning or polishing, nor did any guards pace the halls. In the royal kitchens, which were normally filled with hustle and bustle as the cooks prepared the next meal, nothing stirred, and all was quiet.

Throughout the Emerald City, the sun shown down on streets and gardens where nothing moved and no sound was made.

Presently something in Dorothy's room began to move. At first, it was only a shadowy flicker in the mirror over her vanity -- just a slight swirling of mist, which appeared in the reflection of the room only, and not in the room itself. The mist began to swirl faster, and the funnel grew larger, and then the mist moved from the surface of the mirror and out into the center of the room. It swooped and spun about and coalesced into the shape of a girl. A moment later, the mist has faded, leaving only the girl standing on the emerald green carpet.

She was tall and very beautiful. She appeared older than Dorothy or Ozma, perhaps as old as Glinda herself. She was dressed in beautiful flowing robes, much like those of Ozma or Glinda, and her beautiful light brown hair was gathered into an elaborate pony-tail in back and flowed down past her waist. If you had not seen her come out of the mirror, you might have mistaken her for one of the fairy rulers of this marevelous land. But while she was no mortal, she was also not a fairy girl. Her name was Belldandy, and she was a goddess.

One of Belldandy's jobs was to grant wishes to those who were deemed deserving. This was the reason she had come to Oz, as you shall soon see.

Belldandy looked about the room. She spotted the sleeping Dorothy, and glided silently to the side of the bed. She placed a hand on Dorothy's shoulder, and then snatched it back with a small cry. She studied the girl a moment, then placed a hand on Dorothy's forehead.

After several moments, Belldandy withdrew her hand. A slight frown disturbed her normally serene face.

"Dorothy is asleep," she said quietly. "And this is no ordinairy sleep -- it is some kind of magical spell."

Belldandy looked about the room, somewhat perplexed. "I certainly can't grant a wish to a little girl who remains asleep," the goddess said. "Normally, an enchanted sleep is broken with a kiss from a prince... but I wonder if I could possibly find a prince anywhere about?"

She glided softly across the carpet and into the next room. Taking in the wide spaces, the rich carpeting, the marble columns and the beautiful tapestries that covered the walls, Belldandy said, "Well, this does appear to be a palace of some sort. Perhaps I will find a prince, if I look for one."

However, everywhere that Belldandy went in the palace was still and quiet, and the people that she found were all magically asleep just as Dorothy was, and could not be awakened. She walked through wide, empty hallways and passed through various rooms, including a large kitchen and an even larger library. Everywhere she went, she kicked up a fine layer of dust. It seemed that nobody had disturbed this palace for weeks, at the very least.

"Someone has placed an enchantment on the entire palace," Belldandy said, "and perhaps on the whole city. I wonder what I shall do now?"

"You could help break the enchantment," someone said.

Belldandy looked about. "Hello? Who said that, please?"

"Up here," came the voice. Belldandy looked up, and there on the wall she saw the stuffed head of a great elk. At least, it very nearly resembled an elk. There were subtle differences, for it was in fact the head of an Ozzian creature, and not an elk from Earth.

The glass eyes of the creature sparkled in the dim light of the hallway. They seemed to be watching Belldandy, and she shivered slightly. It was very spooky, the way the creature stared at her, although really a goddess had nothing to fear from a stuffed and mounted animal head.

The creature rolled its eyes. "Good day to you," it said. "My name is the Gump. I was once a living creature, but now I am as you see me, a head hanging on the wall. I won't bore you with all the complex details. And you are?"

"My name is Belldandy," she said, bowing. "I'm a goddess. I've come to deliver a wish, only..."

"Only the city is under an evil enchantment," the Gump replied.

"It certainly seems so," Belldandy said. "Can you tell me what has happened here?"

"Well," the Gump said, "I don't have all the details, but it seems that a wicked witch, one that I have never heard of before, has placed the Emerald City under a powerful spell. Everyone who is capable of sleep is under the enchantment, and will continue to sleep until the spell is broken. She cast it during the annual celebration of Ozma's coronation, and thus many heads of state were also present her in the Emerald City, including Glinda, the most powerful sorceress in Oz. She even made sure that all of the citizens that can't be put to sleep were otherwise dealt with. For example, the Tin Woodsman is quite rusted and the Scarecrow has been de-stuffed. I know all of this, because she has been ranting and raving about it ever since. You see, she forgot to leave anyone about to act as her servant, and so she must cook all her own meals, and do everything herself."

"I see. But it seems that she has left you alone."

The Gump waggled his ears. "She doesn't know about me," he said. "Few do. In any case, I'd make a poor servant, as I can not move from this spot. It seems that Bungle, the Glass Cat, has also avoided the witch, for I've seen her skulking about. I suppose her glass body and pink brains are good for something, after all."

"A Glass Cat? How wonderful!"

"Yes, I suppose so," the Gump said. "Once you find her, I'm certain she'll tell you all about it. But I do sincerely hope that you can break the witch's spell. The palace is quite boring with everyone asleep."

"I will certainly do my best," Belldandy said. "But I won't be able to break the enchantment without knowing more about it."

Saying goodbye to the Gump, Belldandy continued on her way. Presently she came upon a very strange metal man, standing still in the middle of a hallway. His body was as round as a ball and made completely of burnished copper, as were his thin arms and legs, with their thick elbow and knees joints. His round head was perched on a short copper neck, and gave him a very comical appearance.

Belldandy clapped her hands together in delight. "My! Why, you almost look like Banpei!" she exclaimed, then added, "an older-style Banpei, anyway. You could be Banpei's grandfather!"

Indeed, the metal man looked much like the beloved little robot Banpei, who had been built by Belldandy's sister Skuld..

Belldandy walked around the strange metal man, examining him carefully. "You don't have an electric cord or battery pack like Banpei does. I wonder how you work?" But then she found a key on the copper man's back, along with a card which contained printed instructions.

"I see," she said, reading the card. "You need to be wound up, like a grandfather clock." Belldandy immediately took the key and set about winding up the clockwork man. First she wound the spring under his left arm, which controlled his thinking, then she wound the spring under his right arm, which controlled his speaking.

"Thank you for res-cu-ing me!" the clockwork man immediately exclaimed.

"Oh!" Belldandy cried out. "Why, you're very welcome!"

"I am called Tik-Tok," the metal man said. Belldandy finished winding up his action spring, located in the center of his back, the man turned and gave a low bow. "I am at your ser-vice," he said.

"My name is Belldandy," the goddess replied. "I was sent here to grant a wish to a girl named Dorothy, but she's been magically enchanted to sleep. It seems the whole palace, and the city outside, has been affected."

"It was a wick-ed witch who did it," Tik-Tok said. "I do not know her name, or where she came from, but she seemed to want re-venge on Glin-da and Oz-ma."

"I see," Belldandy said, nodding. "Then... who are Glinda and Ozma? The Gump mentioned them, but I've never heard of them before."

Tik Tok's copper face did not move and could show no expression or emotion, but somehow the clockwork man managed to look surprised. "Why, Glin-da is the good witch of the South, and the rul-er of the Quad-lings, while Oz-ma is the prin-cess rul-er of the Em-er-ald Ci-ty and al-so rul-er of all of Oz."

"So Oz the name of this land?"

"Of course. Have you nev-er heard of Oz?" Belldandy shook her head no, and Tik Tok added, "It is a ma-gi-cal fair-y land, you know. A clock-work man such as my-self could not ex-ist oth-er-wise."

Belldandy only smiled at this. "That all depends," she said. "You're much like a little robot friend of mine, and he doesn't need to live in a fairy land to survive."

"In-deed? I would ve-ry much like to meet this fel-low some day."

"That would be fun," Belldandy said. "I'm sure you and Banpei would get along wonderfully. But at the moment, I must find a way to grant Dorothy her wish. I can't do that until I break the spell, so I guess we'd better find this witch."

"Per-haps you could wake the Scare-crow," Tik-Tok said. "Un-like me he is a-live, but is not flesh and blood so he does not norm-al-ly sleep. The witch froze him in-stead. Al-so Nick Chop-per, who is a woods-man made of tin, and Jack Pump-kin-head, and Scraps the Patch-work girl, and the saw-horse, and the Glass Cat. There are man-y peo-ple in Oz who ne-ver sleep. I would feel much sa-fer then."

With Tik Tok's help, Belldandy soon found the Tin Woodsman and oiled his joints. After he thanked her, the three of them located the Scarecrow's body. They carried it out to the stables, where they were able to stuff it full of fresh straw.

In the stables, they found the wooden sawhorse, who had been nailed to the floor. Once they released the nails he was nearly as good as new. Jack Pumpkinhead's body was also trapped here in the stables, tied down with straw thrown over him, so that they almost didn't see him. His head had been removed and smashed, but the Tin Woodsman retrieved a fresh pumpkin from Jack's pumpkin fields, which were not too far away, and with his ax he quickly carved a new head and set it upon Jack's shoulders.

"Thank you very much," Jack said. "It is very distressing to lose one's head."

As for Scraps, the Patchwork Girl, they found her down in the palace laundry room, where she had been heavily starched until she couldn't move, and then pinned to a clothesline. With the flat side of his trusty ax, the Tin Woodsman beat her about the head and shoulders (and also the arms, waist, hips, and legs), and soon she was able to move about.

"Thanks for the beating!" Scraps said. "It didn't hurt, and I feel better already!" She did a somersault and sang,

"Scraps, she is a brilliant lass!

"But she was stiff as a plaster cast!

"The Woodsman swung is mighty ax,

"And gave poor scraps a thousand slaps!"

Belldandy laughed out loud. "What a fuuny girl you are!" she said.

"I hope you mean that I'm amusing.

"It's not my looks that you're abusing?"

Scraps said.

"Oh no," Belldandy replied. "I meant that you made me laugh. You're a very colorful person."

"Unlike that wicked old witch," Scraps said. "Why, she's been moaning and complaining day and night. For while I couldn't move, I could still hear her when she passed by. She was very angry that nobody was around to wait on her hand and foot -- but that was her own doing!"

"That's what the Gump said. She certainly didn't plan very well," Belldandy said. "I wonder where she has gone off to?"

"I've gone nowhere, little girl!"

The voice which spoke was raspy, dry and crackled, as if the Deadly Desert itself were speaking. Belldandy turned about and beheld an old woman with wrinkled, leathery skin and a long, hooked nose. She was as ugly as a gnarled old tree stump, and wore black and red striped stockings, a mustard yellow dress, and a dirty blue shawl. Her silver-green hair was tied into two thick braids that stuck out from either side of her head, and her face wore a scowl as sour as nine-month-old milk.

She waved one hand in the air before her in a complicated pattern, all the while muttering:

"Oogle Agle, elsnore fleep!

"Now forever you must SLEEP!"

"Oh!" Belldandy exclaimed. "Why, you must be the wicked witch!"

"Be-ware, Miss Bell-dan-dy!" Tik Tok exclaimed. "She is cast-ing a spell on you!"

The witch's eyes widened slightly, and she stared in confusion at Belldandy, who was clearly unharmed. Then she began to wave both hands about wildly, chanting:

"Furzle burzle burble clow!

" You Shall fall asleep right now!"

"Can you tell me why you've put everyone to sleep?" Belldandy asked. "Also, if you could, please tell me how to break the spell?"

Tik Tok stepped in front of the goddess, as if to block any attack on her. Given that he was barely half of Belldandy's height, he was only able to block her from the waist down, but it was still a very brave thing for him to do. In any case, Belldandy was once again completely unaffected by the spell.

The witch cursed under her breath, then, hopping in a circle on one foot, she waved both hands and her other foot about in the air, shouting:





"I'm afraid magic of that sort won't work on me," Belldandy said, smiling sweetly. "I'm not mortal, you know, nor am I a fairy."

The witch stared at Belldandy, confusion and anger evident in her expression. "By all that is vile and twisted!" she exclaimed. "My magic has no affect on you!"

"Yes, that's right. As I just said. My name is Belldandy. What is your name?"

"You'll not be getting that from me," the witch rasped nastily. "You know as well as I that names grant power!" As Belldandy nodded in polite confusion, the witch added, "What manner of being are you then?"

"I am a goddess first class, unlimited."

"A goddess!" the witch exclaimed in surprise. She drew back fearfully. "What are you doing here? You have no right to be here!"

"I came to deliver a wish."

"Well then, you won't succeed. Everyone here is asleep -- asleep forever! So you'd better just go back to where you came from!"

"But I can't do that," Belldandy said. "The Yggdrasil System has decreed that Dorothy, Princess of Oz, shall be granted a wish. I am required to grant her her heart's desire."

"Miss Bell-dan-dy, do you think it is wise to give her so much in-for-ma-tion?" Tik Tok asked cautiously.

"But are you sure that's right and proper?" the witch asked craftily. "Surely here, in the land of Oz, Princess Dorothy has everything her heart could desire? She has her aunt and uncle, and none of them will ever grow old. She has all of her friends here, and they include the most noteworthy, powerful and influential people in the realm. She has everything she could want to keep herself entertained and amused. Why would someone like Dorothy need a wish? Indeed, why should she deserve it, when there are many poor and unhappy children who surely are more deserving?"

"It is not for me to say who deserves a wish and who doesn't," Belldandy said. "That is up to Yggdrasil, which follows the will of the Almighty. I merely grant the wish to the chosen person. But as for Dorothy, she can hardly have everything her heart desires so long as she and all of her friends are under your spell of sleep."

"And so they shall stay!" the witch yelled at the top of her lungs. "FOREVER!

"Ragmidth! Suuthow! Garmanthay!

"Send me somewhere far away!"

And with that, the witch spun about and vanished.

Belldandy frowned.

"What a disagreeable woman," she said.

"Most wicked witches are," the Scarecrow said.

"I wonder what has made her so disagreeable? If I could find out, perhaps I could help her, and then she would help us lift this spell."

"That's not very likely," the Scarecrow said. "A wicked witch like her is just a bad person, period. You won't find her good side, for she doesn't have one."

"Oh, but you don't really believe that, do you?" Bell replied.

"Perhaps when she was young, she may have had a kinder heart," the Tin Woodsman said. "But now it is shrivelled with selfish ambition. She cares for nothing but herself. Even though I hold no ill will to any person or living thing, I can assure you that a wicked witch like her is beyond redemption."

"Nobody is ever beyond redemption," Belldandy said firmly. "But one thing's for certain. This place isn't very safe with a disagreeable witch like that about. It will take time to learn how to break her spell. I don't want to leave you here, but I wonder where I can take you that will keep you safe? They really don't like us to bring mortals into Heaven, you know"

"On that score, you have no fear," the scarecrow said. "All of us are immortal, or nearly so. Nick Chopper can be battered and rusted, but a little oil and a good tinsmith always has him back in tip-top shape. As for me, barring a mishap with fire, I need only replace my straw every so often and repaint my face, and I'm good.. Scraps only needs some occasional cleaning and darning..."

The Patchwork Girl did a somersault and exclaimed, "Sew true! Sew true! And Darn me too! Darn me to heck, and I'm good as new!"

"And as for me," Tik Tok said, "I am guar-an-teed for a thou-sand years, but I am so well built that I think I may ver-y well last for-ev-er."

"I only require a new head every so often," Jack Pumpkinhead said.

"I am made of wood," the sawhorse said. "I imagine I'll last a very long time."

Belldandy frowned a moment. "Well, I'm not sure if any of you qualify as true immortals," she said, "but it's clear that none of you are mortal in the ordinairy sense. I think it will be okay to bring you along with me."

"If I may be so bold," said the Scarecrow, "as to make a suggestion, my excellent brains think that we should first travel to Glinda's Palace in the South. There we can consult with her Book of Records. That is the best source for research that anyone has ever heard of, for it instantly records anything important that happens anywhere in the world."

Belldandy considered this a moment.

"That sounds like a very good idea," she said. "How far South is Glinda's palace?"

"Don't bother."

The group turned to see a crystal-clear Glass Cat stalk into the room. Her eyes were two brilliant emeralds, while her heart was a fiery red ruby. Within her head were many small pink stones that twirled and spun about.

"Bungle!" the Scarecrow exclaimed.

"Oh!" Belldandy cried. "So you're the Glass Cat! The Gump said that you were somewhere about!"

"Of course!" the cat said. "I cannot be put to sleep or de-stuffed or starched or otherwise frozen, and I do not rust or run down like the clockwork man. My body is made of glass, which is a much finer substance than tin or copper or straw. Not only am I much stronger and more resiliant, I am also a great deal prettier."

"I sup-pose the witch would have shat-tered you if she had had the chance," Tik Tok said.

"I suspected as much, and that is why I hid from her. She was no match for my beautiful brains. You can see them working, you know, and that proves that they're unmatched."

"Why, so you can!" Belldandy said. "You're a very clever and pretty cat indeed."

The Glass Cat, being an excedingly vain creature, was quite pleased by these comments.

"Anyway, you won't find Glinda's book in her palace," Bungle said. "The wicked witch has already stolen it."

"She has?" the Scarecrow exclaimed in surprise.

"Of course. She used the magic belt to wish it to her," the Glass Cat said.

"Oh no! She has the magic belt too?"

The Glass Cat rolled it's pretty emerald green eyes. "Of course she has the magic belt! And Osma's magic picture as well. Why wouldn't she? Obviously your famous brains are no match for my beautiful pink ones! Name the first things any villain who wants to conquer Oz goes for. The Nome King's magic belt, Ozma's magic picture, and Glinda's Book of Records. After all, if you were going to conquer Oz, wouldn't you do the same thing?"

"I don't know," the Scarecrow said. "I've never thought about it before. Why would I want to conquer Oz?"

"I wouldn't expect you to want to," the Glass Cat said. "But the first step in planning a defense is knowing how your enemy thinks."

"I don't want to know that! If you think I'm going to get into the head of a wicked witch, you've got another thing coming!"

"You mean think," Bungle said. "As in 'You've got another think coming.'"

"I think I know what I mean!" the Scarecrow cried hotly.

"In any case," the cat said, "it hardly matters. If the book had anything to say on the subject, then Glinda would have seen it and been forewarned. Since we know that she was caught unawares, we can be certain that the Book of Records does not say anything important about the witch in question."

The Scarecrow looked surprised. "That, Bungle, is an astounding bit of deduction!" he exclaimed. "I'm surprised I hadn't thought of it yet. But I do believe you're absolutely right. Glinda always reads her book very carefully, just for situations such as this. I wonder how the witch managed to plot and craft such a spell without Glinda finding out?"

"That's a good question," the cat said. "But perhaps we can discuss it after we're gone from here?"

"It will take me a few minutes to prepare the right spell," Belldandy said. "Is there a hury?"

"Yes," the cat said. "If the wicked witch has the magic picture, then she is watching us even now. And if she has the magic belt..."

There was a flash of light, and suddenly they were no longer standing in the laundry room, but in a smaller room, with three windowless walls and a fourth wall made of green steel bars, with a padlocked door.

"...she can transport us wherever she wants," Bungle finished. "The Emerald City's royal dungeon, for example?"

"Oh my!" Belldandy exclaimed.

You would probably not expect a place like the Emerald City to have a dungeon, and to be certain it was rarely used, but even a fairy land like Oz has occasional problems, and rules that are sometimes broken. Thus, in one corner of the palace, in the basement, there were several small jail cells. But as you might expect, this was not like any normal jail.

The first difference was that the walls were covered with inlaid emeralds, juast as the rest of the city was. Also, the cells were large and quite spacious, so that Belldandy and all of the others could fit easily into one of them. The ceiling was very high and had many glass skylights, so that the little jail was very brightly lit. The floors were thickly carpeted, comfortable chairs and beds were within the cell, lovely pictures hung on the walls, and beautiful green potted plants lined the hallway on the other side of the bars. In fact, if it were not for the bars, you might think you were in a luxurious apartment or hotel room.

The first one to move was the Glass Cat. She padded up to the bars that kept them inside the cell, and slipped between two of them. In a jiffy she was on the far side of the bars, looking in at the others.

"Well," the Glass Cat said. "This is quite a pickle for the rest of you, isn't it? How lucky for me that I can squeeze between these bars so easily."

"Mr. Scarecrow," Belldandy said, "what else can this witch do with this magic belt?"

"Well," the Scarecrow replied, "one of its chief use is to move things about -- but in the hands of a person with knowledge and magical talents it can do many things. It has often been used for transformations, for example..."

"Miss Glass Cat," Belldandy said quickly, "please step back inside."

"I don't see why I should," the cat said. "You have no authority over me. I don't even know who you are. Nor do I have any desire to stay inside a jail cell. I was thinking that I might go and find the key to the cell..."

There was another flash of bright light, and a whooshing sound. When the others looked about, they saw that Jack Pumpkinhead was frozen. His entire body, including his head, was now a billiant, translucent green.

"Why, he's been turned into an emerald statue!" the Scarecrow exclaimed.

"And so we all will be, in just a few minutes," Scraps said.

"Poor Jack Pumpkinhead, all stiff and green!

"The prettiest statue that you've ever seen!

"One thing's for certain, as he's frozen there,

"His wit and his wisdom's no worse for the wear!"

"I'd rather not be transformed into emerald," the Tin Woodsman said. "A cold emerald heart would hold no warmth or kindess at all."

"But it might be nearly as beautiful as my ruby heart," the Glass Cat said.

There was a second flash, and the Sawhorse was transformed into a cold, stiff emerald carving of a sawhorse.

"She's going to transform us all!" the Scarecrow exclaimed, beginning to panic.

"Please," Belldandy said, "Miss Bungle, step back into the cell. If you'd all gather around me, I think I can block the witch's spells..."

"Oh, is that the reason?" asked the Glass Cat, who was still on the far side of the bars. "If you'd only have said. I'm not inclined to follow orders blindly, but if I understand their purpose..."

Nick Chopper reached through the bars, snatched up the cat, and pulled her through. A second later, with everyone huddled around her, Belldandy raised her hands and said a small, prayer-like chant. A small sphere of blue light seemed to form around the group. Almost at the same time, there was another flash, similar to the one that had transformed Jack, but this time it bounced off of the blue sphere and ricocheted onto one of the nearby plants, which was instantly transformed a bright emerald plant statue.

"Bungle," Nick Chopper said, as he set the cat down on the carpet. "You are an excedingly clever cat, but when a goddess asks you to move, you had best move."

"I had no idea she was a goddess," the cat said. "You see? As I said, a little explanation goes a long way..."

"You should apologize to the Tin Woodsman," Belldandy said. "If not for him, you might be an emerald cat now, instead of a glass one."

The cat cocked her head sideways. "That might not be so bad, so long as I could still move. Emerald is almost as pretty as glass. After all, my eyes are made of emeralds, you know!"

"Yes, but people would no longer be able to see your heart or your brains," the Scarecrow said.

"Well, I certainly wouldn't like that part at all," the cat replied swiftly. "No, it's much better to remain a very beautiful crystal-clear Glass Cat." She nodded her head in the Tin Woodsman's direction. "My thanks," she said, "although next time I would ask you to be more careful. My body is resilient, but it can be broken."

"How long will this barrier last?" the Scarecrow said, looking fearfully towards the ceiling.

"Long enough," Belldandy replied. She produced a bit of chalk and began to sketch a magic circle on the floor. "Travel to and from Heaven is quite easy for me, as long as a mirror is nearby. But to transport all of you, I need a more complex spell."

Again a bolt of green light bounced off the magical sphere that surrounded them. A large tapestry hanging on a nearby wall suddenly became emerald, and the extra weight caused the whole thing to collapse and shatter, scattering green emerald shards across the carpet.

A crack appeared in the blue sphere where the bolt had struck. The Scarecrow glanced nervously at Belldandy, who was just completing her chalk circle. She stepped back, raised her arms, and in a beautiful, lilting voice she began to chant something in a language that none of the Ozians had ever heard. Possibly someone familiar with Norwegian or one of the other Norse tongues might have recognized some of the words.

Crash! Another bolt bounced off the sphere. The crack in the grew wider. Crash! The nearby couch was transformed into emerald. The crack reached all the way to the floor now, with myriad web-like smaller cracks spreading out across the sphere. The air was humming, and Belldandy's voice could only just be heard above the noise. CRASH! Another bolt slammed against the protective sphere. A moment later, with a loud ping, the sphere shattered. Shards of the spell clattered down to the carpet and then vanished.

"Miss Belldandy?" the Scarecrow said in a quavering voice.

"ZAP!" Another bolt of green magic arced down. At the same moment, the goddess spoke the last words of her spell in a voice that rang out like the sweet but clear sounds of a silver bell. Suddenly the entire world turned a brilliant sky blue, and the small group felt as if they were flying or falling through space.

The blue faded. They were no longer in the Emerald City palace jail cell. They were on a marble platform, overlooking a lush expanse of grass and trees. A bright blue sky overhead was filled with warm light, but no sun could be seen. A nearby fountain provided a steady background clatter of falling water, while birds swooped through the air chirping merrily.

Feeling strangely top-heavy, the Scarecrow removed his hat, and gave a startled cry. The top third of it was now made of emerald.

"That's cutting it close," Nick Chopper said. The Scarecrow nodded numbly in agreement.

"Are we safe here, Miss Bell-dan-dy?" Tik Tok asked.

"Of course," Belldandy said. She smiled. "Welcome to Yggdrasil. Otherwise known as Heaven."