Unlike the first two chapters, this one has not been read/edited by anyone else. In fact I just finished it a few hours ago. I hope it works okay.
When the transfer spell faded, the seven travelers found themselves in a strange new land. They were on a grassy hill overlooking a sapphire sea. A road wound around the cliffs above the shoreline and then turned inland, stretching out towards the distant mountains until it faded from sight.
Something about the entire landscape seemed other-worldly. Certainly the Ozians were accustomed to magical fairyland landscapes, and the two goddesses had visited many places that were not of Earth, but more than any land that any of them had ever seen, this land seemed strange and mystical. The ocean was too tranquil to be a normal ocean, and was a deeper blue than one ever saw in the real world. The shoreline seemed too perfect, and the deep amethyst sky, streaked with long whispy clouds, seemed like something out of one's imagination, too beautiful to be real. The distant mountains were too perfectly dramatic. They rose sharply to the sky, like icy jagged blades stabbing at the heavens.
Even the road seemed to be more than just a road. Like everything else it seemed too perfect, too idealized to be real. It was like an archetype of all roads, and staring at it one couldn't help but want to travel down it, perhaps forever.
"I've never been in a dream," the Scarecrow said. "Yet this is exactly like I always imagined it would be."
"I nev-er i-ma-gined what it might look like," Tik-Tok said. "But it is ve-ry bea-u-ti-ful."
"Yes," the Tin Woodsman said, "but also a bit intimidating."
"Huh," Urd said. "Dreamland looks remarkably like Little Nemo's Slumberland. Why doesn't that surprise me?"
"Little Nemo's Slumberland?" Belldandy asked. "What's that?"
"You mean you've never heard of that either?" Urd frowned. "Bell, you really need to brush up on your pop culture references. Watch some tv. Read some comic books."
"And then I would know who Little Nemo was?"
"Yes! Well, actually... no. Now that I think about it, it's not well-known these days. Funny, I wonder where I came across it? Anyway, it was a comic strip in America in the early part of the 20th century. Little Nemo was a boy who had fantastic adventures in his dreams. The artist Winsor McKay was a master of inventive, surreal dreamscapes. Like this one."
"Oh," Belldandy said. "I just thought it looked like a Roger Dean painting."
Urd stumbled and almost fell. She stared at her sister for a long moment. "Uh, yeah... that too," she said.
"What now?" Scraps asked. "What now? What now?" She danced about in her floppy, carefree manner.
"If I had to guess," the Glass Cat said, "we need to travel down the road. But you can stay here if you like."
"That's right," Urd said. "What do we do? Follow the yellow brick road!"
After a moment of silence, the Tin Woodsman said, "I certainly don't want to be rude, but this road is not made of yellow brick."
"No," the Scarecrow said. "It's made of grey stone. The only yellow brick road I know of is the one in Oz."
Urd glared at them. "I said, humor me."
"Oh," the Scarecrow said. "I forgot. Yes, good joke. Ha ha."
"But are we safe from the witch?" the Scarecrow asked. "Won't she just follow us here?"
"She very well may," Urd replied. "But the artifacts the she has stolen -- the magic picture, the magic belt, and Glinda's book of records -- will not be of any use to her now."
"That's right!" Belldandy said. "I should have realized! Those objects have no power in the land of dreams, which runs by its own rules, laws, and logic."
"Indeed," Urd said. "Few things of power on Earth hold any sway in this land, for dreams are among the hardest things in existance to control. But remember, the witch Andreologo fashioned her spell of sleep while in the land of dreams."
"She did?" the Scarecrow asked. "How did you know that?"
"She really doesn't," the Glass Cat said. "But it makes sense, for all of the reasons Urd just listed. Since the magic picture and Glinda's book of records don't work here, Andreologo could have planned her revenge from the land of dreams without fear of being discovered."
"Exactly," Urd said. "I suspected as much, but now I'm certain. When she took not only they Yggdrasil library's Book of Records but also the Book of Dreams, I knew my guess was right. She knew that the Book of Dreams would reveal how she crafted her spell."
The Scarecrow nodded his head excitedly. "I see it now! It's quite clever, when you think about it. But without the Book of Dreams, how will we know how the spell was crafted or how it can be undone?"
The Glass Cat rolled her pretty emerald eyes. "Use your famous brains for once," she said. "The witch stole the Yggdrasil copy of the Book of Dreams..."
If a painted face could look astonished, then the Scarecrow's face did. "Of course!" he exclaimed. "There's still the original Book of Dreams! That would belong to the Dreamlord, then?"
"Yep," Urd said. "I sincerely doubt our little Miss Witch has stolen that.
"Now, we should assume that Andreologo's a formidable magician even here, for she's studied the laws of dream magic. But while I'm sure we haven't heard the last from her, I don't think she'll visit this land herself. Not physically, anyway. I suspect that the Lord of this realm is none too pleased with her by now, and would take exception to another visit. And I can assure you, she is no match for Morpheus in his own realm. Not even close."
The road led up to a giant castle, with wide marble steps leading up to a massive door. The door was guarded by three giant creatures -- a wyvern, a gryphon, and a pegasus. They sat perched above the door and stared down at the strange group of travellers. The wyvern, red-scaled and dragon-like, sat in the highest spot directly over the door, his head moving this way and that like that of a snake. The grypon, with brown feathers and fur and a golden beak, sat on a shelf to the left of the door. To the right sat the pegasus, with beautiful white hair and huge white-feathered wings folded against its back.
"Welcome to the castle of the Dreamlord," the gryphon said. "Please state your names and your business here."
Belldandy curtsied gracefully. "If it please you, Lord Gryphon, my name is Belldandy, goddess first class, and this is my sister Urd, goddess second class. Our companions are the Scarecrow, Emperor Nick Chopper the Tin Woodsman, Scraps the Patchwork Girl, Tik-Tok the Clockwork Man, and Bungle the Glass Cat, all residents of Oz. We seek an audience with the Lord of Dreams. We seek permission to travel within his realm, for we must do so in order to unravel a spell that was cast here."
The grypon inclined its head. "You may enter," it said. "It seems that the Lord anticipated your arrival. Please step through the door, and wait in the lobby."
"Thank you very much, Lord Gryphon," Belldandy said. "And good day as well to you, Lord Wyvern and Lord Pegasus."
As the travelers passed under the gaze of the three gatekeepers and through the door, the glass took time to examine the three strange creatures. "Don't stare, Bungle," the Tin Woodsman said. "It's rude to do so."
"But I've never seen creatures such as these," the glass cat replied. "In any case, if a cat may look at a king, then certainly a cat can look at a pegasus. I have the right."
The pegasus whinnied softly and said, "Nor have I ever seen a creature such as yourself, glass cat."
"Naturally," the cat replied, "as I am the only one. Aren't I the most beautiful thing you've ever seen? Oh, but you are quite beautiful as well, Mr. Pegasus."
The pegasus said nothing in reply.
Just inside the doorway was a wide hallway, with a ceiling that was too high to be seen. The hallway ran straight to the right and left of them until it, too, vanished in the distance. Across from them was another large door. It was closed.
Presently a figure came walking down the hallway. The Scarecrow exclaimed, "Why look! It's our friend Jack Pumpkinhead!"
And indeed the fellow walking towards them looked remarkably like Jack Pumpkinhead, with thin stick-like arms and legs and a head like a carved pumpkin. However, this person walked with a worldly assurance that was completely unlike the Jack they knew, and he also was smoking a cigarette. He wore a rumpled white shirt with a blue tie and blue overalls and carried a ladder over his shoulder.
"It can't be Jack, you know," the glass cat said. "Surely Jack is still an emerald statue back in the Emerald City jail cell."
"What did you call me?" he asked. "Pumpkinhead?" He paused to take a puff on his cigarette, and added, "Is that supposed to be some kind of slur?"
"Oh no," the Tin Woodsman said. "It's just that you look very much like a friend of ours named Jack Pumpkinhead."
"Jack Pumpkinhead? Kind of a dumb name, ain't it?"
This comment stunned the Ozians for a moment. "I-I'm sure it's always suited him quite well," the Scarecrow managed to stammer.
"Don't get me wrong," the man with the pumpkin head said. "I'm just speaking my mind. I mean, Jack, that's an okay name. You can tell he's a regular guy with a name like that. Salt of the earth, not afraid to get his hands dirty. Right? But Pumpkinhead?" He indicated two of the travelers. "They might as well call you Scarecrow and Tin Man. How stupid would that be?"
"But that is what they call us!" the Scarecrow said. "I am the Scarecrow, and my friend is the Tin Woodsman, although his given name is Nick Chopper. And my companions are the Patchwork Girl, the Clockwork Man, and the Glass Cat."
"Huh! Guess they're short on imagination where you come from. Name's Mervyn, by the way. I'm the handyman around here, jack of all trades. I'm the guy that actually does all the work. You folks lookin' for the boss?"
"That's right," Belldandy said. "My name is Belldandy, and this is my sister Urd. We're here to ask a favor of the Lord of Dreams."
"A favor, huh?" Mervyn said. "Fat chance of that! He's not the type to grant favors for no reason."
"I think he will talk to us," Belldandy said. "We have a very good reason for being here -- we are trying to undo a spell that was cast from this realm."
Mervyn took another puff on his cigarette. "Well, good luck, that's all I can say. You'll be lucky if he gives you the time of day. I don't want to rain on your parade or anything, but take my word for it, the boss is a flake. I mean, he's all right as far as being Lord of Dreams goes, but that's just it. It takes someone a little unbalanced to even do that job, right? Not like me. I'm just a regular Joe, the guy behind the scenes who moves the props around and sweeps up afterwards. Now the boss, he takes everything to extremes. Always so moodly and serious. You ask me, he takes his job too seriously. Why, the other day..."
Mervyn paused mid-sentence, suddenly aware that someone was leaning over his shoulder. The newcomer was tall and slender, with a thin face and small round spectacles perched upon a hawkish nose. He was dressed in a crisp black suit like a butler might wear.
"Loosh!" Mervyn exclaimed. "Didn't see you coming! I was just, you know, welcoming our guests here..."
"So I see," the newcomer said. "Weren't you supposed to be adding a room to the west wing?"
"Right!" Mervyn said. "I'm on it!" He hurried down the hallway, pausing only to yell over his shoulder, "See you folks around! Good luck on your quest. Say hi to yer friend Jack for me!"
When Mervyn was gone, the tall newcomer bowed to the group of travelers. "The Lord of the Realm of Dreams bids you welcome," he said. "My name is Lucien. If you will follow me, the Lord awaits us in his throne room."
The room they were led into was much larger than any earthly throne room. In fact, although there was a floor below them and walls to either side, with rows of pillars lining the walls, everything was made of a marble so black that if you did not look directly at it, it seemed to be the night sky itself. Flecks of yellow-white dusted the marble like distant stars, and the travelers had the impression that if they strayed from the red carpet which led down the center of the room to the throne, that they might drift of into the eternal blackness of space.
It was a very long walk to the far end of the room where Lord Morpheus sat on his thrown. The travelers were all surprised to see what awaited them there, for the throne was nothing more than a rough wooden chair, and the one who sat in it wore nothing more than black jeans, black leather boots, and a black tee shirt. His skin was pale white, his hair was black and unkempt, sticking out in all directions, and his eyes were hidden in shadow.
When they'd reached the throne, Belldandy stood before them and curtsied. "Greetings, Lord Morpheus," she said. "My name is Belldandy, goddess first class, and this is my sister Urd, goddess second class. My companions are Tik Tok the Clockwork Man, Bungle the Glass Cat, Nick Chopper the Tin Woodsman, The Scarecrow, and Scraps the Patchwork Girl."
"Greetings, and welcome to my realm," Lord Morpheus said.
"Thank you for taking the time to see us," Belldandy continued. "We've come to ask a favor of you."
"Yes. You seek to travel my realm and undo a spell which was fashioned here," the Lord of Dreams said. "I am well aware of your quest."
"Why, yes," Belldandy said. "That's it exactly."
Lord Morpheus bowed. "You have the right to seek out the key to the undoing of this spell," he said. "I cannot deny you this, since the spell was fashioned in my realm. Indeed, I am not happy that my realm was used in this fashion, and I therefore grant you leave to travel where you must, and I will aid you in your quest. But you journey with companions who are not of my realm, who do not have the capacity to sleep and dream. They should not be here."
"If it pleases you, my Lord," Belldandy said, "is it not true that everything in the realm of creation dreams? The trees dream of warm sunlight and cool night, of quenching rain and of growing as high and tall as they may. The boulders dream of the cold ice flows that brought them to valleys where they lay, and of warmer days spent in the sun with flowers nestled at their feet and insects exploring their crooks and crevaces. The land itself dreams of the turning of seasons, and of warmth and life and of the ancient, violent past and of the long desolate future that stretches out before it after all life has gone. Even a man-made object such as a motorcycle dreams of flying down the open road. I know that this is all so. How then, can you say that my companions do not dream? It is true that they do not sleep, and therefore do not enter your realm as easily as any mortal might. But yet, do they not still dream, in their own way?"
The Dream Lord stared for a long moment at Belldandy, his dark eyes like bottomless, impenetrable pools of water. Finally he nodded his head slightly. "It is as you say. But just as these companions of yours do not sleep and enter my domain as freely as any mortal, it is even less proper that they enter my realm in physical form."
"If I could be so bold," the Scarecrow said, stepping forward. "I know that everything you say is true. But unlike Earth, Oz is a fairy realm. A person such as myself or my good friend the Tin Woodsman, or any of our other companions could hardly exist in a place like Dorothy's Kansas. I have always thought that lands like Oz are much closer to Dreamland than the mortal realms. It seems to me that we all come from a realm that is somewhat a part of Dreamland already."
The Dream Lord smiled for the first time. "Your brains serve you well, Scarecrow," he said. "What you say is not exactly true, but yet there is truth in your words. There is a connection between fairy realms such as Oz and Dreamland itself, but it is not so easily defined.
"In any case, I believe that two of you who have journeyed here from Oz will be essential to the completion of this quest. Therefore I grant you leave to travel with the Goddesses Belldandy and Urd."
"You are most gracious, Lord Morpheous," Belldandy said, once again curtsying low. "If I could, there is one more favor I would ask of you..."
"You have in your library a Book of Dreams, which records important events that occur within your realm. It would be most helpful if we could study it. It might tell us something about how this spell was cast and how it may be undone."
"Indeed. You have a copy of this book in the library at Yggdrasil, do you not?"
"We did," Belldandy said. "The witch Andreologo has stolen it."
"I know." The Lord of Dreams stared down at them for several long moments. "I have never been happy that such a copy of my book existed outside of my realm," he said. "I am even less happy that the security of Yggdrasil is so lax as to let it be stolen."
"My apologies, Dreamlord. I would not have thought it was possible myself, but the witch has access to some very powerful magic items."
"Yes." After several long moments, the Lord of Dreams said, "I will let you consult my Book of Dreams, but when all this is through, I wish that your copy of my book be turned over to me or else destroyed. I do not wish for such a book to exist outside of my realm, where anyone may learn what I am doing at any moment. Do you agree to this request?"
"I can't make that promise," Belldandy said. "I'm afraid that is a decision best left to the Almighty."
"That is fair enough," Lord Morpheus said. "Very well. You may look at my book, and I will discuss this matter with Him later."
The Lord of Dreams stood. "Belldandy, Urd, if you will follow Lucien, he will show you to the library. As for your companions..." Morpheus paused, then held out his hand. A small blue light appeared above his palm, and then floated down to where the Ozians stood. "Follow this light," he said. "It will lead you to a room where you will wait. Do not stray or wander from the path. There are many dangers within my dwelling, and I can not be held responsible for what happens if you do not do as I ask."
The Ozians followed the floating blue light out of the throne room and down a long hallway. Soon the light went through a doorway to the right. They found themselves in a small room with several chairs and a couch and a coffee table covered with dog-eared magazines. There was a water cooler in one corner, and a small television hung from the ceiling. It looked, in fact, very much like a waiting room at a hospital or hair salon or auto repair shop – until you noticed that the magazines bore such titles as "Dreams Illustrated" and "Field and Dream". The television was disturbing too – there was a channel changer on the table, but each channel seemed to display some kind of dream. As such the scenes were chaotic and without plot, or rhyme or reason.
Tik Tok, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodsman seated themselves and waited patiently. Scraps bounced about the room and did somersaults, and occasionally spouted random silly rhymes. Bungle watched her with a bored, disdainful look that only a cat can manage, then got up and paced about the room.
"This room is boring," Bungle said.
"Yes," the Scarecrow replied. "I believe that's the point. Waiting rooms are designed to be boring, I've found."
"I wish I could do some exploring," the cat said.
"Don't," The Scarecrow warned. "You heard what Lord Morpheus said to us."
"Yes, I heard," the Glass Cat replied. "Don't worry. His warnings are much like those from Glinda: I take them seriously. Still, it's a shame. I'm sure there are many wonderful things in this place, and I may never get another chance to see them again."
"Quite likely never," the Scarecrow agreed. "There's nothing for it but to wait."
Soon a young elf girl appeared. Unlike most of the fairies of Oz, she was quite homely and bedraggled-looking, but she had a pleasant smile. "My name is Nuala," she said. "Is there anything I can get for you? Food? Drink? A pillow, perhaps?"
"I'm afraid none of us eat or drink," the Tin Woodsman said. "Nor do any of us sleep. I think we are quite fine for the moment."
"I would like to explore a bit," the Glass Cat said.
"I'm sorry," Nuala replied. "I can not allow you to leave this room. She waved to something on the wall by the door. "If you need anything at all, just push this button, and I'll come by."
"Thank you very much," the Tin Woodsman said.
"Enjoy your stay," she said, and disappeared.
It was several hours before Urd and Belldandy finally returned. Belldandy had a round mirror hanging from a silver chain around her neck. It was like an oversized pendant, for the mirror itself was more than six inches across and far too large to be worn just for decoration. Urd had a large black canvas bag slung over one shoulder.
"What did you find out?" the Scarecrow asked.
"A very great deal," Belldandy replied. "Urd and I will tell you all about it as we travel. But we have quite a journey ahead of us, so we'd best get going."
Lucien appeared right behind them. "If you would follow me," he said with a slight bow.
He led them down a long corridor and into a very large room. It was something like a dance hall, with an inlaid marble floor, an arching ceiling decorated with crystal chandeliers, and tall pillars lining the walls. In the center of the room was a very large four-poster bed.
Scraps immediately jumped up onto the bed and began bouncing around on it. Belldandy floated up and settled upon the thick blue comforter. "Come on up," she said.
"Why, it's only a bed," the Scarecrow said. "I thought we were going to travel without delay."
"We are," Belldandy said. "For this is more than just a simple bed. It's a magical traveling bed, which the Dreamlord has lent to us for use on our journey."
"A traveling bed?" Scraps asked as she bounced about. "How does it work? How does it work?"
But the Scarecrow was examining the legs of the bed. "Why, I believe it can walk," he exclaimed.
"Indeed it can," Belldandy said. "What better way to travel the land of dreams than upon a walking bed? With this, we will travel safely. Lord Morpheus has also given me a magical mirror to aid us in our quest, and a supply of food for Urd and I. He was most gracious."
"All aboard! All aboard!" Scraps cried out gleefully. But when everyone was gathered upon the soft mattress, the bed remained still.
"How is it supposed to move?" the Tin Woodsman asked.
"It's just a bed," the Glass Cat said. "It's not going anywhere"
"No, that's wrong," Urd said. "It won't move until we're all dressed for sleep, or at least, those of us who can sleep. That's how it works."
Belldandy clapped her hands together. "That's easily fixed! Oh, this is going to be fun!"
Raising her hands and speaking in a beautiful language that none of the Ozians understood, Belldandy cast a spell. Moments later, she was dressed in a white cotton nightgown, while Urd was wearing a much more revealing black neglige.
Instantly the bed began to walk forwards. It moved with a gentle, rocking gait, like that of a boat on an ocean.
No sooner had the bed began to move, than a raven flew down and settled upon the headboard. It took one look at the Scarecrow and the Glass Cat and ruffled its feathers, but it did not leave.
"Good day to you, friend raven," the Tin Woodsman said.
"Hi there," the raven said. "You're the Tin Woodsman, right? And the Scarecrow, the Glass Cat, Scraps and Tik Tok. I know about all of you. You can call me Matthew."
"Good day then, friend Matthew," the Tin Woodsman corrected. "Are you intending to come with us?"
"Looks like," the raven replied. After a moment he added, "Not really my idea, but I do what the boss says."
"The boss? Then you serve the Dreamlord?"
"Yeah, I'm his raven," Matthew said. "Not the first. He's had quite a few over the years, I'm told, but of course he's been alive for just about forever. I've only been his raven for a few years. Before that, I was a human living on Earth."
"Did it hurt?" Scraps asked.
"Did what hurt?"
"Being turned into a raven?"
"Not at all!" Matthew said. "In fact it's been quite interesting, so far. I'm sure there are plenty of worse things that might have happened to me."
"I've always felt that way," the Tin Woodsman said. "I was once a man of flesh and blood, but I've found that, for the most part, I don't miss it at all."
Quickly it became clear that they were in no ordinary hall, for they continued to travel between the rows of pillars with no end in sight. The ceiling overhead grew dark, until they could no longer quite see it, but only sparkles of light reflecting off the chandelier crystals. The marble floor changed from white to green. The columns to each side of them gradually faded to brown.
With a start, they realized that they were no longer in a long pillar-lined hall. The black overhead was the night sky. The sparks of light were not reflections on crystal but stars. The green underneath was grass, and the brown columns to either side of them were the trunks of trees.
They were now traveling through a wooded forest. Presently, they came to an open area where the trees were sparse. Dotted among the trees were various shallow pools. Moonlight reflected off of each dark surface.
"How very beautiful," the Tin Woodsman said.
"The Woods Between the Worlds," Urd said. "Or something very near like it. The Dreamland equivalent, I should say. Within each of these pools is a seperate dreamland, I think."
"Each pool is a seperate world?" the Scarecrow asked.
"That's correct," Urd said. "From here, traveling to any dream world is as simple as finding the right pool and jumping in."
"I see," the Scarecrow replied. "But then... how do we know which pool we want?"
Belldandy held up the mirror that hung about her neck. "This mirror will point the way," she said. "One of its enchantments is to always point to that which you seek."
She spoke a few words in a strange language. Instantly a beam of light shot out of the mirror, pointing into a deeper area of the woods. The bed ambled along, nimbly avoiding the other pools, until it came to the one that the mirror light was pointing at. Without a pause it placed one wooden foot into the pool. The pool seemed to expand suddenly and draw them forward. In a moment the entire bed, with everyone on it, sank below the water.
They fell down and down into a sea of deep dark blue. It felt as if they were floating down through something thicker than air, but not as thick as actual water.
After a moment the Scarecrow cried, "Why, I'm not wet at all! I was afraid that Scraps and I would become all soggy, and that Nick and Tik Tok would rust!"
"They're not really pools, you know," the Glass Cat said. "They're more like portals."
"That's right," Urd said. "As I said, each pool is a gateway to a different dream realm."
They dropped faster now, towards a small pinprick of light that rapidly expanded into a sphere of bright light and color. In moments they'd fallen into the sphere, and then suddenly they were dropping out of a crystal blue sky toward a golden field of grass. The bed settled lightly onto the ground and for the moment stood still.
"Welcome to wherever we are," Urd said.
"But where are we?" Scraps asked. "Where, oh where?
"Where in Dreamland did we go?
"Up or down, I do not know!
"Drifting here and drifting there
"Falling down into the air
"Jump into a pool and see!
"Come into a dream with me!"
"Who knows where, exactly?" Urd asked. "We're in one of the outer Archipelagos of Dreamland. Don't ask me which one. There are thousands and thousands of them. But I believe it's here that we'll find one of the people we seek."
"Well," said the Scarecrow, "I've always said that if you keep moving forward, you're bound to wind up somewhere interesting. But do we have a specific goal in mind? What are we searching for?"
"A way to break the spell," Bungle said.
"Yes," Belldandy said. She held up the mirror again, and another beam of light shot out across the fields and off into the distance. Instantly the bed began to amble across the fields in the direction of the beam.
"This could take a while," Belldandy said. "So now is a good time to explain everything that Urd and I have learned."
The others waited patiently. Urd dug around in her black bag and produced a tea tray, upon which she set a plate of cookies, a steaming tea kettle, and two tea cups. Belldandy smiled. "Perfect!" she said, pouring tea for herself and her sister. After taking a long sip of tea, Belldandy began her tale.
"As you know already, we're here to break the enchantment of sleep that the witch Andreologo has placed upon the Emerald City," she said.
The others nodded their heads in agreement.
"Good," Belldandy said. "Now let me tell you what we've learned from the book of Dreams, and what we've been able to piece together. First, and I do not yet know why, but Andreologo has some sort of quarrel with Glinda the Good. I believe Glinda banished her from Oz."
"Peo-ple are rare-ly ba-nished from Oz," Tik Tok said.
"Then it must have been something very serious," the Tin Woodsman said.
"She's a witch," the Scarecrow said. "Most likely she refused to stop practicing magic. That would be enough for Glinda to banish someone from Oz."
"That could be it," Belldandy said. "We won't know for certain until we speak with Glinda. But in any case, we know a little of what happened afterwards.
"For years Andreologo plotted her revenge. She was very careful," Belldandy said. "She lived a quiet life on Earth, where she posed as a kindly old woman who helped run an orphanage in a place called Guatelamala. Such a simple life, filled with good deeds, was not likely to attract Glinda's attention or arouse her suspicion."
"Are you certain?" The Scarecrow asked. "I don't think someone with so black a heart could act so good and kind."
"Perhaps her heart is not as black as you think," Belldandy said.
The Tin Woodsman nodded his head. "I'm sure her heart is as red as anyone's," he said. "And if she has a heart at all, then she cannot be all bad."
"I don't believe that at all," the glass cat said. "Whether her heart is black or red, or whether she has one or not, she is still a wicked witch, and she's up to no good."
"We won't know the full truth until we confront her," Belldandy said. "But let me continue. By day she was good and kind and did nothing to alarm Glinda. By night, while she slept, she traveled the land of dreams and plotted her revenge upon Glinda and all of Oz."
"Ah!" the Scarecrow exclaimed. "So Urd was right! And Glinda's book couldn't have warned her of that.".
Belldandy smiled. "Exactly. Glinda's book is a wonderful thing and a great source of knowledge, but it is often cryptic and very short on details. Moreover, it can only tell Glinda what is happening in the physical world. As the witch plotted her revenge only from the land of dreams, Glinda had no chance of being forewarned."
"Then what do we know of this spell?" the Glass Cat asked. "How can we undo it?"
"We know a great deal about it," Belldandy said. "The witch was extremely clever in the creation of her spell. She learned a whole new branch of magic -- dream magic -- specifically because she could not hope to defeat Glinda using magic found in Oz. She also set many safeguards against the destruction of her spell, for she meant for it to last for all eternity. But with magic this strong, there must always be a way left to defeat it. That is part of the rules. And so, there is a way that the spell can be undone, but it will not be at all easy."
"Yes, yes," the cat said. "How can it be undone?"
"To undo the spell, one must awaken Princess Ozma."
"Is that all?" the cat asked. "It sounds very easy."
"It is not at all easy," Belldandy said. "Princess Ozma is not asleep in the Emerald City, but here in dreamland itself. Her body has been placed at the center of a special dreamworld, at the center of the spell itself. This dreamworld has been constructed in such a way that no single person may penetrate it. Only five champions of the five realms of Oz, working together, may enter the area of the spell."
"I do not think it should be too hard to find five champions willing to try," Nick Chopper said. "Why, you have at least two right here in the Scarecrow and I."
"That's true," the Scarecrow said. "Nick and I have had many adventures together, and helped save Oz on many occasions. We are ready to do whatever must be done. And if Tic-Toc, Scraps, and Bungle are willing, then there's your five champions right there."
Scraps laughed and bounced around the bed, singing,
"Five champions of Oz to break the spell!
"Five champions of Oz to make things well!
"Five champions to wake the princess,
"And ask her if she really missed us!"
Belldandy smiled at the Patchwork Girl's rhyme, but said, "It's a bit more complicated than that. There are a host of rules attached to the spell. First of all, men or boys may not pass through the outer ring of the spell, so these champions must be female."
"Oh," said the Scarecrow, crestfallen. "Well, at least Scraps and Bungle..."
"Nor can they be animals or non-living things," Belldandy said, "although each champion may carry a small animal companion. In fact, the spell absolutely requires that they have such a companion."
"That still leaves you and Urd as possible champions," the Tin Woodsman said.
"There's still more," Belldandy said. "They may not be older than twelve years of age. Therefore, the champions must all be young girls."
"That's a lot of conditions," the Scarecrow said. "What we need are Dorothy and Betsy and Trot, but they are all asleep. Still, I should think we can find five girls in Oz willing to try and save Ozma and everyone else."
"They will need special abilities, including magic," Belldandy said.
"Glinda has ruled that no one may work magic in all of Oz, save her and the wizard," the Tin Woodsman said doubtfully.
"Well, we are not in Oz," Belldandy said, "but there is a bigger problem. They may not be from Oz. That is the last part of the spell -- the champions must be girls who were not born in Oz and who have never lived in Oz."
"Champions of Oz, who have never lived in Oz?" the glass cat exclaimed. "Why, that's preposterous! Who ever heard of such a thing?"
"The witch did not mean for it to ever happen," Belldandy said. "Probably it never would happen, naturally. But things are different now. You have me to help you, and Urd, and the magic given to me by Lord Morpheus. We can make it happen."
"How will we find these champions?" the Scarecrow asked.
"That," Belldandy said, "I will reveal when the time comes. But the first part of it is easy. Only the rulers of a land may choose their champion, so we must find the rulers of each of the five lands of Oz."
"Then you've found one of them already," the Scarecrow said, "for my friend Nick Chopper here is the Emperor of the Winkies. But as for the others, they are all asleep in the Emerald City, victims of the witch's spell."
"All except Ozma," Belldandy agreed. "She's trapped at the center of the spell itself. But do not worry. Glinda, the good witch of the South, may be asleep in the Emerald City, but she is here in Dreamland as well. And the same is true for Joe King and Queen Hyacinth of the North, and King Cheeriobed and Queen Orin of the East. We will be able to find each of them in turn somewhere in Dreamland and help them choose a champion. As for Ozma, is it not true that when she leaves the Emerald City, she often places the Scarecrow in charge?"
"That is true," the Tin Woodsman said. "The Scarecrow was once King of the Emerald City and is a wise ruler. Ozma places great trust in him, as do all in Oz."
The Scarecrow looked as if he were about to blush, although of course he couldn't. Instead he said, "Do I get to choose the champion of the Emerald City? If so, then let Nick and I choose right now!"
Belldandy shook her head. "Patience," she said. "Let us find the other champions first. There is no need to drag others into our adventure before its necessary. First, we seek Joe King and Queen Hyacinth, rulers of the land of the Gillikins."
The others agreed with the wisdom of this, and so the group settled down on the bed and waited to see where it would take them. All, that is, except Scraps, who continued to jump and bounce around on the springy mattress.
The bed strolled over fields and hills and through dark forests. Soon the two goddesses were sound asleep. The others held quiet conversations throughout the night or relaxed and enjoyed the gentle swaying of the bed as it ambled along under the stars.