Atonement's Echo

By: Sokai

Disclaimer: I, Sokai, do not claim ownership to the workings of "Tin Man," an epic re-imagining of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz -- I leave that honor for this three-part television miniseries up to RHI Entertainment and SciFi Pictures original films (and Steven Long Mitchell as well as Craig W. Van Sickle for having written the teleplay). However, I can and DO claim to own this story and its inspired ideas FROM said miniseries.

Note: Yay! My opener was "acceptable" for the majority of those who'd bothered to 1, read it, and 2, read AND let me know they obviously had. LoL Much obliged. And as a treat for you, the writing's pouring out of me for this story thus far so well that I can actually get chapter one out at a decent amount of time. Woo. LoL Now, for those also reading my "The Royal Guardian" story, no worries, because chapter 40 should be out within the week, since I'd been finished writing it. Gonna honestly try to just write and get out as many chapters for multiple stories as I can, if not posting them. So...yeah! Thanks!

Oh, and in case you hadn't gathered by the story's title and character categorization, this is a Azkadellia redemption story, and the aftermath of all she'd done and how she'll deal with that. Because she reminds me so much of Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess in that regard, that was my main motivation to write out this story. So bear with me! LoL

One more thing to the "newcomers" to my writing/stories. Just a head's up that since I'm in love with writing I tend to take as much time as possible to detail and descriptive text. So if you find that sometimes it's unbearable for you, sorry for that. But I also prefer to write each new story for whatever series as though the reader had never known about the series/people in the first place (hence the prologue recapping the other characters, rather than barrel into the new story head on).

So...right. Thanks! LoL

Enjoy!


This chapter was created/written in December 2007.


- ô Ô Chapter One Ô ô -

"Oh, my God! Azkadellia! What happened? What's the matter?" breathed a very alarmed D.G., instantly dropping to her knees and promptly enveloping her older sister-in-need within her arms. The distraught princess and ex-Evil Sorceress merely continued to sob uncontrollably into her pulled up knees, seemingly unable to hear her younger sibling having addressed her, or perhaps even unaware that she was there at all.

Nevertheless, D.G. remained ever persistent. When repeated call outs did not seem to work, she'd then begun to gently jostle the dark brunette's curled up body a bit, to see if that might not render her freed from whatever evidently plagued her.

"Oh, c'mon, Az . . . t . . . talk to me. . . . Tell me what's wrong . . . I just got you back! Do you think I'm just going to give up now? Let me in. . . ." pleaded D.G. within a desperate, increasingly frightened whisper.

Tears filtering into her own eyes just then, she leaned forward and kissed the top of Azkadellia's soft, a bit disheveled head, before affectionately resting hers upon the older girl's shoulder. It was then that suddenly the crying ceased, and demulcent singing began to filter the bedchamber.

". . . Two little princesses dancing in a row . . . spinning fast and freely on their little toes. . . . Where the light will take them, no one ever knows. . . . Two little princesses dancing in a row. . . ." D.G. could hear Azkadellia lyrically speak with a distinctly fatigued, deplorable nature in between lingering sobs.

Looking up in surprise, the sable haired princess gazed with confused, widened eyes as she listened to her sister finish the last of their childhood nursery rhyme (that she, herself, had sung hours before, as one final, desperate attempt to separate Azkadellia from the Evil Witch of the Dark).

"Az. . . .? Are . . . you all right? I mean . . . you are still you, right?" she queried in concern, subconsciously pulling away from the former possessed woman.

To D.G.'s relief, however, Azkadellia nodded slowly at the same time that she'd blinked just as sluggishly, peering down at the floor.

"Yes . . . it's still me, D.G. . . . ." she responded weakly, her voice barely above a whisper. She leaned her midnight brown colored head back against the pale wall behind her tiredly, bleak chocolate tinted orbs gradually moving up to lock with her sister's contrasting brilliant blue.

Unbeknownst to either girl, during that brief moment of renewed silence, each princess of the Outer Zone began to marvel at how different their physical appearances truly were. With her soft cerulean eyes filled with wide-eyed wonderment, D.G. resembled an honestly innocent, untainted beacon for light and all that it embodied.

Whereas, Azkadellia admittedly did appear to be quite the formidable foe, the way her long sea of shadowy hair resembled a never ending shroud of looming darkness over all that would oppose her . . . her eyes unmoving, cold and vacant as those of a true villainess.

The sibling duo were the physical epitome of Light and Darkness. . . .

However, Azkadellia was none of those things now. She was not the sturdy pillar of unrelenting power she had always exuded throughout their encounters in the past three days. Nor was her voice reinforced with unparalleled vigor as normal.

No.

Right now, right at that moment, was a scared, lost little girl staring idly back at D.G. . . . . One who had been through fantastic hell, had at last buckled underneath the pressure and broke down.

And that was when it had all begun to make sense to the younger woman.

Azkadellia's doleful exhibition had merely been a façade, as a selfless mechanism to shield the rest of her family from further heartache than what she had already bestowed upon them. . . .

As though having been mentally privy to the last of her ruminations, D.G. suddenly heard Azkadellia say, gently, "Yes . . . I'd done it for you, Deege. . . . For you, Mother and Father. . . ."

". . . Did what? You mean . . . pretending to be happy and all right, when you were truly miserable inside? Why?" responded D.G. in honest sadness, posing a question to an answer she'd already figured out for herself.

Closing her despondent eyes, Azkadellia inhaled generously, before slowly releasing her breath out into the atmosphere.

". . . 'Where the light will take them, no one ever knows. . . .' Did you ever stop and wonder . . . wonder if those words had any sort of actual validity to them? I mean, when you were a child? Or now, even? I hadn't . . . there was never a need to . . . because I'd believed in 'the light' back then. . . . But, I suppose merely believing just wasn't enough . . . for the light had only led me straight into the darkness, regardless. . . ."

D.G. gasped with an immediate furrowing of her darkened brows upon hearing this.

". . . Wait . . . don't do this to yourself, Az. . . . Do not blame yourself for the things that the Evil Witch of the Dark had been responsible for, because it wasn't your doing!" vehemently challenged D.G., searching her sister's currently flaccid countenance to see if what was being said registered at all with her.

But Azkadellia merely scoffed, bitterly chuckling lightly before speaking again.

"Oh, D.G. . . . . If you only knew a mere fraction of the things I've done after you'd gone and I'd effortlessly usurped the throne away from Mother. . . . Because, by then, the Evil Witch of the Dark had grown a lot stronger inside of me, having taken better control of my body and actions. . . . But I've nonetheless accomplished many dastardly things that would make your head spin. . . ." she began with a heavy heart, her voice growing a bit hoarse while she continued. "I don't have to fluidly remember every course of action that had been fulfilled to know that I'd ordered a tremendous amount of people to be killed . . . or to have their lives otherwise destroyed along with the land and property they might have owned. . . . And all because there had been those brave enough to try to oppose me -- Like you. . . . All that misery, due to the sole fact that I'd been vigorously seeking the Emerald of the Eclipse to further perpetuate my reign of terror. . . ."

Azkadellia slowly reopened her eyes to peer straight into D.G.'s on that last note, both sisters' eyes beginning to renew with unshed tears.

". . . Yeah . . . b-but . . . Az, listen to me. . . . What'd happened . . . all of it . . . it wasn't you. . . . It wasn't your fault! It wasn't! If anything, it had been my own for not having been brave enough to stand by your side when it'd mattered most, and the Evil Witch the Dark's doing to have wanted the Emerald and the willingness to trample over and murder anyone or anything who'd get in her way! You can't blame yourself or be held accountable! I won't let you be!" cried out D.G. with honest incense, although her faintly husky voice cracked just a bit in the process. She then rested both of her hands onto the emotionally contorted female before her to exercise the emphasis and importance of her conviction.

Azkadellia, regardless, could only shake her head slowly, seeming to deflect the truth within D.G.'s words.

"No, Deege . . . it certainly hadn't been your fault. . . ." she began to contest, before her little sister promptly straightened her posture and impatiently cut in.

"No! Stop it! I'm not going to let you suffer like this, okay?? I'd recovered that memory of when I'd left you alone with the Evil Witch! Remember? I --"

"-- Yes, D.G. Yes . . . I do remember that, at least. . . . But you have to listen to me, now . . . when that'd happened . . . you weren't not to blame. . . . You'd said it before, up on the Control Roof Terrace of the Tower when you were beginning to get through to me. How 'your adventures always have a habit of getting me into trouble. . . .' While that may have been . . . a tad true in most cases, I, as the older sister, could have just as easily said no. . . . 'No, D.G.! You won't go and I won't, either! You're too young!' But I never did . . . I never denied you. . . ."

D.G. began to smile softly at this, touched by Azkadellia's increasingly touching admission which instilled a bit more hope inside of her that perhaps her older sister was on the mend, after all.

". . . Because you love me . . . and wanted to see me happy. . . . Which proves you're good at heart, Az! You've always been!" she remarked, gently stroking her sibling's shoulders up and down at the same time.

". . . It was more than that, I realize now . . . I now truly believe . . . that all that'd occurred that day was meant to happen. . . . That I was the one meant to have been captured by the Evil Witch of the Dark. . . . I also believe that I'd always gone on one of your crazy adventures because, deep down, I was jealous. . . ."

D.G. stared back at Azkadellia with a profoundly incredulous nature, her mouth slightly agape.

"Jealous??"

"Yes . . . of your tenacity . . . your zeal for life and of the unknown at such a young age. . . . But . . . most of all, I think my jealousy was mainly due to your magical ability. . . . For, while still so young and an honest novice at it, you'd already seemed to possess such great magic, more than I had at your age. Even Mother had been aware of that . . . which was probably why at times it'd honestly felt like you were her most treasured, even before the Evil Witch had seized me. . . ."

A single tear shed from D.G.'s blue eyes hearing this, trickling down her pale cheek as she spoke.

"No . . . Az --"

"-- I may have helped you focus upon your gifts more efficiently, but between the two of us, you were the true master. . . ." Azkadellia interrupted with a faint, sad smile and raise of her bare hand, before resting a single finger upon D.G.'s rosy lips.

Frowning gently in frustration, D.G. maneuvered her head away from her sister's appendage and leaned back slightly in order to be able to express her compiling consternation.

"What are you talking about? I've seen the things you can do! Boy, have I seen the things you can do! Teleportation? Miniaturization?? I could just barely manage that spinning doll trick that you and 'Toto' had helped me with when we were kids! And do you know why I did?? Ultimately, because of you!" concluded D.G. forcefully, her formerly stern facial expression beginning to soften with a gentle smile. She'd chosen to mentally block out the knowledge that she'd also mastered said mystical technique due to Azkadellia's having magically transported and then entombing her within their ancestor and D.G.'s namesake, Dorothy Gale's mauseleum. . . .

Azkadellia seemed to have recalled the same unfortunate happening, as well, for she suddenly shivered a bit, wrapping her arms around her bare arms in self-comfort.

"D.G., please . . . you can't deny the things that I've done, the things I've felt in the past, or what you're capable of. You really are capable of so much more than you yet realize. And if I hadn't been so weak and allowed the Evil Witch of the Dark to take a hold of me, you'd have been able to remain here within the O.Z. to continue with your magical studies. . . . But I was vulnerable . . . because my feelings of inadequacy and secret desire to measure up to you and your magic had been enough for her to penetrate through my resolve to not allow her dominate me after you'd run off. . . . She'd sensed my yearning to grow stronger, and so then used my body as well asmagic to her own fulfillment. . . ." she admitted with a heavy sigh, unable to gaze at her younger sibling out of great shame. She could not bear to know what D.G. was thinking right at that moment in regards to her, if her feelings and loyalty had changed -- Although she could not blame her within the slightest if she did.

Not wishing to hear any sort of response quite yet, Azkadellia promptly forced herself to continue, squeezing her dark brown eyes shut in emotionally swelling pain and anguish.

"Ohh, D.G.! D.G. . . . D.G. . . . As much as I'd fight her in the beginning . . . as much as I'd resisted and tried my best not to allow my inner remaining light to be extinguished . . . over time the fight had simply become too great -- Especially once she'd started to show me what she could do with my innate magical gifts coupled with her own. . . . Suddenly, I was strong -- Much stronger than I ever was before . . . and although it'd come from a dark and evil source, the boost was nonetheless intoxicating. . . .

The Evil Witch of the Dark knew this, and preyed further upon my unfortunate insecurities by telling me how she'd never abandon me in the way that Father and then you had. . . . And I know that she was wrong in saying these things, D.G. -- I do. . . . But, after a while, after having spent ten years, one right after the other, trapped as her prisoner and she having ultimately been the only sort of 'companion' I'd had left within my 'new' life . . . those constant reminders and power enhancement was more of the reality than any other prior to. . . ."

D.G. hadn't even the slightest inclination of what to say upon finished listening to her emotionally fragmented sister pour the last of her wounded heart out. But she did know, for sure, that whether or not she had been within the Outer Zone to know of all of this first hand, she would still find herself unable to completely believe that, all along did her older sibling harbor such emotions in regard to D.G. and her magic.

That, the way D.G. viewed Azkadellia was in fact how Azkadellia saw her in turn.

And she'd have felt profoundly honored and flattered by this, if said confession had not also made her feel all the more at fault for the way the once peaceful and resoundingly stable Outer Zone had turned out . . . and her sister, as well. . . .

One thing that was for absolutely certain, was that never had D.G. asked or desired to be born with magical prowess, let alone be seemingly more powerful than anyone else. And if she could, she would gladly trade those fortified talents with Azkadellia in a heartbeat.

And D.G. had said precisely that.

"Oh, God . . . Az . . . you gotta know that . . . i-if I could somehow g-give it all to you, o-or make it so that you were stronger -- Which I still firmly believe you are -- then I --"

"-- Shh. . . . It's all right . . . I understand, Deege. . . . But . . . you must understand me and all that I've told and gravely admitted to you. I may not have wanted the Evil Witch of the Dark to pronounce me as her thrall, but she nonetheless had. . . . And she'd probably called out to you on that day as a way to lure me down into the cave to her, I don't know. . . ." Azkadellia tiredly trailed off, her eyes reopened once more as she lightly rubbed at her temples to lull her forming headache. "All that I do know for sure, with this still pretty hazy mind of mine, is that what had transpired within the past decade was ultimately actuated by my hand and at my command, regardless . . . and no matter how many times I shall wash my hands within the future, the betrayal of what I'd carried out and the blood shed in my name will never be removed from them. . . ."

D.G. could no longer stand any more heartache. She clasped both of her hands tightly together, beginning to plead with her desolate, renewed familial companion as the tears freely began to fall.

"Please, Azkadellia, my sister! I beg of you . . . For the final, absolute time, what's happened to the Outer Zone has been bad, yes! I won't deny that! But, i-if we just continue to fix things a-and make reparations as we've all already begun to do, t-then in time --"

"-- No, D.G. This is my own cross to bear -- Alone, and alone I shall. . . ." said Azkadellia with a sudden renewal of strength within her voice, reaching out to stroke her woeful sister's cheek in comfort. "And even though I am keenly aware that no amount of act can or will even begin to remedy the chaos that I'd caused, I am still going to try, no matter what you continue to tell me to sway my feeling upon the matter. . . ."

D.G. continued to sniffle with heartbreaking misery, tilting her ebony colored head to the side as her moist face scrunched up like a little child.

"Wh . . . what are you saying? What are you trying to tell me right now, Azkadellia?" she managed to sob out weakly, mimicking her older sister's action from before by squeezing her own weeping eyes shut, seeming to have suddenly switched places with her.

And this sight and knowing that D.G. was currently in so much pain had caused Azkadellia to feel all the more remorseful for every last vile act she had done as Evil Sorceress of the O.Z.

If only she had been stronger. . . . If only. . . .

Exhaling slowly, she tried to verbally deliver, as delicately as possible, "That . . . as soon as things are first more squared away and secure here, I am leaving. . . ."

Azkadellia watched in increased sadness as D.G.'s eyes swiftly flew open at this, wrenching herself away from the older girl's gentle embrace.

"Leave?? No! You can't! You have to stay with me! Your place is with me! With your family, who all love you dearly!" she cried, piercing blue eyes practically boring a hole straight into Azkadellia's forehead at the sheer force of her current gaze.

But Azkadellia trudged on, willing herself to block out her pain for her sister.

"I understand that, D.G., but I can't just hide behind others and secured walls of fortresses forever . . . I have to face my sins and those I'd harmed head on. . . . If they're ever going to forgive me, if not forget all that I had done, then I must do this. . . ." she finished, her voice faltering a moment at the very end, as the sight of yet another tear cascading down D.G.'s milky white cheek was almost too much for her to handle.

Using the back of her naked arm, D.G. promptly wiped those new tears away from her face as the sadness she'd been feeling up until then began to become replaced with swift and justifiable anger.

"But why must you? Do you have any idea how dangerous it will be if the O.Z.'s formerly most virulent woman went out there, unguarded, to -- To what?? Try to atone for things that were out of her control?? Things she can't even remember doing that clearly? Why? Why do you feel you have to do this, Azkadellia?? Tell me!!" demanded D.G. heatedly, deeply frowning expectantly at the other woman for a good answer.

Beginning to feel herself growing just as on edge as her younger counterpart for her apparent lack of understanding, Azkadellia, with a light scowl of her own, swiftly responded, "Because it's the right thing to do, D.G.! I may not be as strong as I was before, and it may very well be true that I'll be met with fierce animosity from those who would seek out swift retribution . . . but I will face all that comes my way because it is truly the right thing to do!"

Unable to formulate further words after hearing her sister's returned outburst, both D.G. and Azkadellia merely sat in silence once more, allowing both of their growing choler to subside in the meantime. After several minutes had passed and she'd truly felt as though she'd completely calmed down, D.G. softly queried, "So . . . what, then? You just leave, traverse throughout the entire Outer Zone, righting wrongs that are not yours to fix in the first place I will say yet again, until you've felt you've redeemed yourself??"

Azkadellia let out another tired, small exhale and inclined her dark brown head in confirmation.

"Clearly, I know that no amount of what I'll do will really ever abolish my transgressions, D.G. . . . but yes, this is the plan. I owe that much to our people to at least try," she replied, her voice returning to its whithered, lackadaisical state from before.

D.G. shook her head lightly at the same time she'd then completely covered her face with both hands, struggling greatly to, at the very least, comprehend her sister's intentions if she could not bring herself to be all right with them.

Expelling her own breath into her palms roughly before pulling them away, D.G. dropped them onto her lap as she gazed back at an awaiting Azkadellia and tentatively asked, ". . . But for how long do you honestly plan on doing this? Being away? Because I gotta tell you that I'm not at all thrilled about this, at the risk of sounding insensitive and inconsiderate," she began, slowly shaking her darkened head as though for emphasis. "And if you have to do this, then at least let me go with you! Me, and Mr. Cain, Gli -- I mean, Ambrose, and Raw, too, if they're all up to it! I don't care! Just . . . above all else, though, you and I have to stick together. Remember? 'We're strongest if we stay together.' So, since you seem so adamant on pursuing this . . . 'walk the Earth' pilgrimage, then I will be coming with you no matter what you say. End of story."

Azkadellia immediately felt herself become fear-stricken and admittedly a bit outraged at her little sister's formulated notion. It was one thing for her to venture out into the freshly liberated land of the Outer Zone, but to risk any harm to befall one of the most cherished beings in her life if allowing their accompaniment was simply asking far too much.

"Absolutely not, D.G.! I couldn't ever say 'no' to you before when we were kids, but I'm going to honestly have to right now!" she managed to speak firmly, straightening her posture to accentuate her assumed authority upon the matter at that moment. "It'd been far too dangerous to have me, of all people, as your companion. And, besides! Someone needs to remain at Mother's side until she is better recuperated. It'd be greatly unwise to leave her unattended right now."

Despite being all too aware of the truth within her sister's words, D.G. nonetheless did not care. At the moment, none of that mattered to her.

"Nice try, Az, because Mom won't be 'unattended' even if I go with you, because she has Dad again, and all of the soldiers back on her side to safeguard her until she does get better like you said," she countered with sturdy rationalization, a small smirk formulation upon her once distressed visage.

Azkadellia's face, too, began to relax a bit then, impressed with the other girl's determination.

"Deege --"

"-- Either you forget all about this and stay here with me, or I'm going to go with you. But in either scenario, I won't leave you ever again. . . ." Azkadellia listened to her younger sister announce touchingly, feeling her heart lightly swell with emotions she'd thought had long since vanished.

She couldn't help but to chuckle softly at this, her first, genuine laugh and simper of all those previously issued throughout the evening.

"If there's one thing I can remember for absolutely certain, it would be that you're just as stubborn and headstrong now as you were as a child. . . ." she attempted to jest lightheartedly, reaching out to playfully tug upon one of D.G.'s strands of long black hair. "But . . . all right, D.G. You win. . . . You're right. You really are. If I want to make amends, I will. But always with you by my side. . . . I will stay. . . ."

D.G. nearly squealed with delight as she heard this, as all former doubt and worry instantly evaporated from her insides and she was truly happy once more.

"Ah! Finally! A breakthrough!" joked D.G. with profuse glee, immediately embracing her sister tightly. "Thank you. . . . It will get better and easier with time . . . I promise. . . ."

Azkadellia's head bobbed up and down a bit against D.G.'s shoulder as she merely nodded while returning the hug, her face falling a bit at this.

Although she knew that her younger sister's words were meant to solely make her feel better, it did nothing of the sort. For she knew, deep down, that things were only going to get a lot worse from that point on, and that nothing would ever be the same again. . . .

-- End of Chapter One


(A.N. YES! Done! Praise Jeebus Crisp! LoL Took my most of my evening to edit this bad boy, and I'm beat, so DON'T bother to point out mistakes I may have unfortunately missed despite the usual thorough scouring. But yeah. I hadn't realized how long it was until I'd typed it out, after I'd finished writing it manually before I'd gone to bed last night. But yeah. Not a bad length for the first "official" chapter, I guess, yeah? I mean, this is short to me, six pages, but only because I usually dish out far more than that for one chapter. But enjoy it, anyway, kiddies. LoL Now chapter two's gonna be a real prick, because I'll have to bother to showcase what ALL of us who'd watched the entire miniseries wanted to know and see with the rest of the characters. That is, did Glitch get his brain back? Did Cain go back to his son, Jeb, or stay to help put things in order with D.G. and her family? Did Raw leave as well, or stay? And all that jazz. Curses, my love of writing and attention to detail, or else I'd let my natural laziness win out and not bother. LoL Thanks for reading, again, and reviews if you leave 'em!)