The Rewards of Power

A Revisionist Work based on L. Frank Baum's 'The Magic of Oz'


Introduction and Disclaimer

I began reading Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West perhaps just over a month ago when I became infatuated with the music from the stunningly powerful musical it spawned. I completed the work of literary genius and went on to Son of a Witch. Both novels I found inspired me to think more about the Oz that Lyman Frank Baum (my own ancestor) had created. The utopian front that had so many political hints within that Maguire so wonderfully turned into his award-winning novels. As such I decided, as a tribute to his work, to write this piece in his world and hopefully in a style that compliments his own while adding a touch of my own imagination.

As a general note, I would like to say that Wicked, The Wizard of Oz or anything hitherto associated is in any way owned by or affiliated with me. Many if not all of the characters are owned by Baum, Maguire or Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman. I am just, in effect, borrowing the characters.



The squadron marched in formation towards the pillar of dark smoke rising up into the sky. From their vantage point on the top of the hill they could see the fleeing silhouettes of men women and children escaping from the flames with what little possessions they could muster, piles of clothes and food packed onto carts lit in a dull orange glow from the flames that whirled and twisted about the settlement, pulling down the weighty timber beams and thrusting clouds of white hot ash into the air. The screams of those trapped within the burning houses had slowly diminished as the troop of Gale Forcers had moved closer and closer to the spot of the attack and as they began the trek down the slippery dirt track, they pulled their rifles closer to their bodies, their hands poised ready for any sort of onslaught.

The Defence Ministry of the Emerald City had been flooded with reports of Animal revolt in the southern forests of Munchkinland. From what information could be gathered, the army of creatures were being lead by an illegal H'yupii sorcerer and a Nome however verification was still in order. From their base in the lower forests of the fertile countryside they travelled from settlement to settlement slaughtering those who did not join their cause and burning the place to the ground. In a matter of weeks they would have reached the Emerald City's eastern entrance and with a force of deprived Animals numbering well over ten thousand, they would storm the city and bring the place to the ground. The ban on Sorcery meant that no longer did Oz have a powerful enough magician to challenge this young prodigy. Lady Glinda, now well into her sixtieth year, was in a state where her health was steadily declining due to a generous dosage of gout and pneumonia and spent much of her life being tended to by Maunts from the Royal Mauntery of Oz while her Cabinet, the Council of Ozma, governed Oz in her stead. In the time after the Emperor's removal, Oz had slipped into a desperate state of chaos. General Andor of the Emerald City Guard acted as Oz's dictator during the Nome Wars and when the foreign forces were finally thwarted he reinstated Glinda the Good as Oz's governor. She placed various laws to restrict the power of those who would be able to topple the balance and subjugate the country back into anarchy, one of which being the Sorcery Act, by which Sorcery and the study of the magical arts was made restricted to all but herself who was, it was thought, the most powerful sorceress in Oz. However, Animal degradation laws set decades before remained untouched and with the sudden emergence of this renegade magician, it would seem that his access to power would come through the revolution of all those Animals deprived of the right to be equal to live in towns and have the same quality of life as humans did. At this point in time, a large squadron of Gale Forcers had been deployed at the site of the last onslaught to hopefully slow the Animal's invasion.

By the time the regiment had marched its way in formation to the ruined site, the sun was well on its way to the centre of the sky. The squadron took a rest on the fallen wooden planks that had once made up small thatched cottages and barns, careful to make sure they brushed them down of ash before they dirtied up their brilliant green uniforms. As the deployed cooks opened up the field rations of tinned meat and nemplant beans, one of the Forcers, a messy haired youth with dark ruddy brown hair and a tanned complexion made his way over to the Commander who was seated in a spot under a field umbrella, further shaded by a small huddle of pine trees.

"Commander," he greeted the man formally as a mark of respect. Some would have said that formality mattered more in the Gale Forcers than it did in the Royal Army of Oz. "Do you mind if I sit a while with you?"

"Not at all, Captain, not at all!"

The Commander was a warm character, a bull of a man with a personality to match. His round face was fiery and blushing, his greying hair matching his wonderfully curled moustache. His brilliant blue eyes glittered with knowledge. His service to the Land of Oz had lasted well into the years of the Wizard. While he had just been a fledgling then, his many years in the Force had earned his the respect of his entire squadron. "Now then Master Kalan, what can I do for you?" he asked, nodding and taking the plate of field rations, still steaming from the heat of the pan as the kitchen boy handed it to him.

Kalan's eyes stared the man directly in the face. Born an H'yuppi it was courteous to always look directly towards those of higher rank as a mark of respect. "Sir, if you don't mind my asking, I don't understand why a rebel force of Animal activists poses such a threat to the Emerald City?"

"It's not that my boy. These Animals have travelled from the farthest reaches of Munchkinland. The laws may not have been relinquished, but Animals are once again still part of our infrastructure. It may be illegal, but Animals are still employed, they have housing in all major cities and yet just because they were once degraded by a tyrant, they think they are entitled to more. The Royal Regiments are perfectly capable of handling a large scale force, old boy; it's what banner they march under." He lowered his voice. "The sorcerer… Nobody practices magic any more, not since the ban anyway. It makes one wonder how dedicated the H'yup tribes are to the reunion of Munchkinland as a solo state to the Land of Oz, producing such a dangerous threat as that."

"If you don't mind me saying, sir, I don't blame you for thinking such thoughts… The H'yupii are simple people, they don't care for magic they care for survival through the winter. They wouldn't spite a country that they prefer to live away from it would draw too much attention to themselves. They're the only legal Lurlinist community left in Oz. I hate to have to say it, but comparatively, they are far too primitive to have formulated a plan such as that. Apart from the fact it would have spelled doom for their society… the army would be down on them in days."

"Evil works in mysterious ways, old boy," replied the Commander, his eyes glittering, "Only through the Unnamed God can we be purged of all wickedness… Lurlinism is a pagan cult and a barbaric one at that!"

His ranting subsided and the Commander wheezed to cool his blushing face. He reasserted himself and spooned a large helping of canned meat and beans into his mouth, chomping on the tasteless mixture noisily. However, as his eyes began to slide over the creature sitting in the branches of the tree his chewing began to slow. The sparrow hopped down a branch, and then another, the sunlight glinting off its beautifully feathered wings. It's eyes were dark, and as Kalan watched intently, he could detect the flicker of rage within the beast as it levelled itself with the Commander's head.

"Greetings, Commander…" hissed the Sparrow with fierce intent. The Commander dribbled a small speck of brown paste down the front of his tunic. The Sparrow cocked its head to one side. "My, my, humans are messy these days. Here, let us clean you up…" In a second the bird had let out an ear-piercing screech. From the dark depths of the tree's came a rumbling like thunder and as the soldier's looked up their fun-filled faces suddenly turned to horror as the witnessed the dark column rising up out of the small glade. Wing beat upon wing as hundreds upon hundreds of Birds and Beasts of the air from Robins to Eagles, and Gryphons to Wyverns towered up into the stratosphere, a whirling army of Animals that in a millisecond had begun their dive down upon the servicemen, beak and talon brandished, gouging eyes, tearing cloth and flesh is explosions of gore. Kalan leaped to his feet brandishing his rifle. With a sweep he cut down a Jackdaw that came swooping towards him. He watched as out of the piles of ash in blasts of white smoke jumped other Creatures: Bears and Foxes and Badgers all who had lain hidden beneath the rubble of the settlement waiting to strike. With a blow he was struck down. As he lay on the ground he was pinned by a creature that he had never come across before, a Monkey with silvery grey fur and yet the strangest things attached to its back: A pair of wings.

"Night night sunshine!" taunted the Creature, bearing its teeth before clobbering him over the head with a piece of marble.