Title: Only in Legends
Characters: DG/Cain, Glitch, Azkadellia, some Jeb and Raw, O.C.s
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Sci-fi and others own all.
AN: Well, as if I don't have enough WIPs, I decide to start another. Yup, my muse so has ADD. This is my first frolic into Tin Man fan fiction or any kind of Oz fan fiction really. I haven't read the books, but I've been doing research, so hopefully that'll help. We'll see how it goes, anyway. Hopefully updates won't be too far apart, but I can't swear to anything that resembles regular updates. My life and muse just don't do regular. Hope someone enjoys.
Summary: The world is a much larger place than just the O.Z. and there are far more dangers within it than just the old Witch. Two and half years after her defeat, DG and the others find that out.
Drawing a deep, soothing breath, DG did as instructed. The dirt in her cupped hand felt warm and fresh with the slightest amount of dampness that made the soil clump together but not overly dirty her hand. One or two claps together and the obvious traces of soil would be gone. She concentrated on its feel; on the warmth and wetness. Just like Tutor had told her too.
From across the room, she could feel her sister's eyes trained on her. They were piercing even when she couldn't see them. Early on in their reformed relationship, DG had wondered if animals in zoos felt the same way she did when Az was 'studying' her. Her high school Algebra teacher had had the same look, and DG couldn't help but wonder if it was some look that people who were either waiting for you to screw up or waiting to see if you can actually do it instinctually had.
"Concentrate," Tutor repeated lowly. "Let your magic flow. Don't force it."
His deep voice rumbled in her ears, lulling her into a more comfortable state. Let it flow. Through her. Through her hand. Deep into the soil she held. Down to the seed hidden with it.
"Picture it in your mind," Tutor went on. "See the seed crack open and sprout. Help it grow."
DG could see. Something so small and well hidden, sprouting and becoming something. Becoming a tiny green vine pushing its way out of the dirk. She could see tiny leaves forming and spreading as it grew taller. A small bud would form and open and lovely purple pedals unfolded before her.
Feeling slightly drained, DG opened her eyes and saw a flower that looked identical to the one she had imagined and sprung forward. Granted, it wasn't as large as the one she imagined - she was still only getting the hang of this spell - but it had worked. For once it had worked.
"Well done!" Tutor exclaimed proudly as if he had been one to make the flower grow. "Well done."
"That was very impressive, little sister," Azkadellia said, slowly rising from the settee she had been perched on. A teasing grin spread across her face, "And it didn't even burst into flames this time."
"That happened once," DG said, trying not to roll her eyes. "Besides, I had help with that one."
She gave Az a pointed look, but the older princess just continue to smile as if she had no idea what DG was talking about.
"The point is, princess, you did," Tutor said, scooping the soil and flower from DG's hand and placing it in a waiting pot. "You're coming along remarkable well. Hopefully soon we'll finally be able to move on to the hard stuff."
"The hard stuff," DG repeated to herself.
After two years - sorry, annuals - of training and they were just now getting to the hard stuff?
DG knew that Az was laughing at her. She just didn't know if it was because Az knew what sort of long hours of training in spells that she'll never use that her little sister was about to have devote her life to or DG's expression at knowing what sort of long hours of training in spells that she'll never use she was about devote her life to. With Az, either were likely.
Tutor finished placing the newly formed flower in its new home and then carefully placed the pot in front of a large, frost covered window. Outside, snow flakes could be seen flickering by the glass in thick sheets, speckling the grayness with white. It was hard to make out the outlines of the surrounding mountains of the city, and, when the suns set in less than an hour, it would be impossible. Still, the lights from Central City made things seem to glow from below and it was beautiful to see, even in its dankness.
"Princess Azkadellia, if you would, please," Tutor said, stepping out of the way and gesturing to the plant.
Still smiling at her sister, Az gracefully crossed the room and looked down at the tiny potted flower. Closing her eyes, she raised her hands in a cupped motion over the plant and then slowly drew them apart. As she did so, the air seemed to shimmer with a light, yellowish glow that eventually encircled the pot. Small vapors of heat could be seen wafting from the glow, but the polished wood of the table wasn't scorched whatsoever.
"There," Tutor said, "that should keep him warm until we can get him to the green house."
"And, hey, at least he didn't burst into flames," DG added teasingly.
"Yes, well, I didn't have help," Az threw back.
The ancient clock on the mantel chimed brightly, echoing through the large study. Checking his own watch to make sure that the time was correct, Tutor said, "I think that's enough for today. We'll continue with this tomorrow to see if you're able to repeat these results."
DG groaned lightly to herself. This was the not-so-fun part of magic. It takes a lot of practice to master the art and repetition, at least in Tutor's opinion, was key. Now that she had successfully made the seed grow, she was probably going have to spend the next six months - cycles - repeating the exercise until he was stratified she could do it in her sleep if she had too.
He still made her practice spinning her doll, and she had mastered that two and half annuals ago. She really didn't want to think about how long she was going to have to practice this.
"Do you think that he just doesn't have anything better to do than make me practice magic?" DG asked as they left the warm study and moved down the much cooler hall.
"It is his job, Deeg," Az pointed out politely. "Besides, I remember there was once a time not long ago that you couldn't wait to go to your lessons."
"Yeah, but that was before I spent three cycles levitating textbooks from one book shelf to another," she grumbled. "I honestly think he just made me do that because he wanted them rearranged and didn't want to do it himself."
"Well, yes, but it was good practice," Az said with that same playful grin gracing her face.
It had taken Az along time to get to a place where she felt comfortable enough to tease and just be playful with her sister again.
The first time that Az had good-naturedly poked fun at her little sister's ill attempt at magic, DG had been shocked. She knew that the Witch had been sarcastic and cruel in humor, but now DG couldn't help but wonder how much the old hag had drawn from Az herself in the humor department. Her sister wasn't mean with her jokes, though. She only 'made fun' when she knew the person could take it and knew she didn't mean anything by it.
Now that DG could remember some of her childhood, she knew that, while her adventures had gotten the sisters into trouble quite often, Az 'jokes' had caused more than their fair share of trouble as well. Dana, the munchkin cook who had severed the Gales for a few generations, still wouldn't let the two princesses anywhere near the kitchen when she was preparing a meal because of a little prank that they had pulled as children. And DG swore that Wilmore, a prized, temperamental stallion, didn't rear up every time he saw Az because of the residual energy that the Witch might have left.
"At least you'll be saved from Tutor for awhile tomorrow," Az said, drawing DG out of her musings.
Of course, instead of this being 'good' news, it just made DG want to grab the nearest candlestick and smashed it against her skull a few times. "Do you think if I threaten to turn her into a frog, Seama will make me some pants?"
"For arrival of Lord Ruggedo?" Snaking her arm through DG's, Az lead her into her room to change for dinner. "About as likely as Mother letting you wear them to meet Lord Ruggedo."
In the shipping city of Zoroaster that sat on the outer borders of the O.Z., there was a bar called Phadrig. It was owned by a named Diggs, who wasn't one for asking questions or caring really about anything that happened in his fine establishment as long as the drinks were paid for and he knew of whatever illicit dealings that were going on. Information on all dealings going on in town was worth its wait gold in a city such as this.
Wyatt Cain sat back in his booth, his back securely back against the wall and his ever present hat pulled low on his face. He peered out from under the brim and over his surroundings while his hand lazily held onto the glass of whatever swill that Diggs sold as a drink. It tasted like the old goat has passed it through his dirty socks a couple of times before serving it up as the house brew. But it was strong and did its job, as was obvious by the loud jeers, laughter, and the small fights that would break out every so often from the other patrons. Cain himself took a swallow from the drink when it first arrive, but then left it untouched. The point was to look like he belonged, not to get stone-faced drunk.
The reestablished law and order of the O.Z. hadn't reached this far, if it was ever present in the first place. Cain had never ventured this far into the outer borders, so he didn't know for sure, but his father had been a sailor and would tell him stories of the ports and cities he visited. They were wild and adventurous and the prefect thing to feed the imagination of a ten-annuals-old boy. He had dreamed of places like this when he was a child. He just never remembered dreaming that it would smell so bad.
Across the bar, a young girl with dark hair grinned stupidly as she scored again at pins. Barely old enough to even be in the 'fine establishment', she looked out of place among the drunk sailors, thieves, and prostitutes. She was too cheery and too bright and too damn noticeable. She reminded him a bit too much of someone he knew and hadn't seen in a long, long time.
Pressing his lips, Cain took a sip of his drink, dulling those thoughts before got started. He had other things he needed to concentrate on, not pigheaded princesses.
A brawl that started a few tables over spilled over onto his. The rickety piece of furniture fell hard to the side, leaving a man with an angry red spot on his cheek laying on the ground. He coughed from the hard hit and rolled around a bit like a turtle that had been put on its back.
Cain watched him with disinterest, his drink still in hand and now resting on his knee.
Finally, the man managed to get to his feet and swayed from side to side as his 'friends' fought it out behind him. "You sorry, son of a bitch," he slurred, mistaking Cain for one of them. He reached to the poorly concealed weapon. "You're going to pay for that."
The weapon hadn't even been drawn before Cain his gun trained on the drunk. "I'd think real hard before pointing that thing at anyone."
The drunk blinked as if what Cain had just said to him didn't make any sense.
Then he was forcefully shoved away. A tall, old man took his place, sneering at the younger man as if he were something he found stuck in his neatly trimmed beard. Built like a career miner, the man's sun-washed white hair and deep, leathery tan gave off an appearance of someone who had spent far to much time doing hard labor in the sun. He was old, yes, but made it clear by the proud way he stood and glared that he could take apart any little snot-nose drunk with a few flicks of his wrist.
"You better get on, son," he said, not sounding as grizzled as one would think. "Before I let my friend here put his gun to good use."
The drunk sneered at him before scurrying away. No one else from the bar had so much as looked from what they had been doing during the whole incident.
Across the bar, the out-of-place girl scored again at pins.
The old man snorted at the coward and then turned his familiar gray eyes onto the ex-Tin Man. Nodding his head slightly, he said, "Wyatt."
Cain's lips twitched, as if it couldn't decide whether it wanted to be a grin or a scowl.
Dinner with her real parents was nothing like the dinners she used have with her robo-rents back in Kansas. It wasn't that they were somehow worse or uncomfortable, they were just different. Everything here seemed to be so proper and formal, even when it was just the family meal, that DG had the urge to scream sometimes. Of course, that could also have to do with the fact that she had to 'dress' every night for dinner. Anyone who was unused to having to wear corsets for any and all occasions would want to scream too if they had to wear one every night just for a family meal.
Squirming in her seat to try and get comfortable, DG decided then and there that Seama was definitely getting turned into a frog tomorrow if the word 'corset' so much as came out of her mouth. If she loved them so much, then she could wear them everyday. Maybe DG should make that a royal decree. Then she'd see how much the royal seamstress liked them.
"DG, are you alright?" her mother asked, watching her youngest squirm around in her seat like a four-annual-old.
"Sorry," DG said, finally settling herself the best she could.
The dinning room lapsed back into relative silence as the family continued to enjoy their meal.
It always amazed DG how quiet the royal palace in Central City was. Located in the heart of the city, the palace was actually made of the three tallest skyscrapers in town. Together they crudely resembled the castles DG had seen drawings of as a kid in Kansas and allowed the royals to 'look out' over kingdom. The top floors of the center tower were reserved for the royal residents, while the lower were used for different purposes. One floor, DG had discovered, had been devoted to receiving royal guest and holding balls. There were three that were devoted to different labs for different sciences. Glitch's lab was located on the bottom one. And the headquarters for the Tin Man units of Central City were on the bottom floor of first tower.
DG pressed her lips. That reminded her. She should write Jeb and see how he and his wife were settling in at his new post. If she causally asked if he heard from his father and how he was doing, well, that would be the only polite thing to do, wouldn't it?
From his end of the long table, Ahamo glanced up at the Queen. "What time are we greeting Lord Ruggedo tomorrow?"
Something in his tone caused DG to halt bringing her spoon to her mouth. Her father never asked when guests were arriving and the tone he used was…off somehow.
DG looked across the table to Az. Her sister could hide it better, but she too had caught the tone and seemed confused by it.
Their mother continued on gracefully eating her meal. DG wondered sometimes how she and Az could do everything so gracefully while she herself was doing good if she didn't drop half her meal down her dress.
"He will be arrive at sundown tomorrow, I believe," her mother said. "Ask Ambrose. He'll know for sure."
DG glanced at her mother, back to her father, and then to her mother again. She started to ask who exactly Lord Ruggedo was when she caught the look on Az's face and the quick shake of her head. Whatever it was, her older sister thought it best to leave it for now and, once she looked at her parents again, DG couldn't help but agree. Besides, she knew who just to ask if she really wanted to know.
The once comfortable silence shifted into uncomfortable silence. DG once again found herself squirming in her seat, but this time it had nothing to do with the corset she was being forced to wear. She wondered if someone else out there was having as such an awkward meal with their family as she was.
Guy Cain looked down at his son, then to the turned over table, and then back to his son. Wyatt glanced down at the furniture, back up at his father, and then took a sip of his drink.
"Oh, no, don't bother to help an old man. Let me just get this," Guy said, hefting the table upright. The small candle that had been placed in its center still laid overturned on the floor, but neither man bothered to pick it up. They knew what each other looked like and could spot if the other one was lying even in the dark.
Settling himself into the chair across from Cain, Guy groaned loudly and said to himself, "I'm getting to old for this."
Cain didn't say anything, just let that smile/sneer continue to play on his lips. A waitress came by for Guy's drink order. Cain couldn't help but notice the way his father smiled at the girl who was probably young enough to be his granddaughter. He made some comment that made her giggle before she left with his order. Cain fought the urge to roll his eyes. Some things never change.
Placing his drink back onto to the now upright table, Cain said, "What do you want, Dad?"
"After all this time, that's the first thing you ask me? No, 'hi, Dad' or 'how are you, Pop?' Just 'what do you want'?" Guy snorted and leaned back in his chair. "You get to be more and more like your mother every time I see you."
"I'll take that as a complement," Cain snapped back.
The waitress had returned and placed Guy's drink in front of him. A too large smile graced his face, making him look younger for a moment as she smiled herself and walked away. Guy Cain watched. This time Wyatt Cain did roll his eyes.
Behind him, the young girl won at pins. As happy as she was, Cain could tell that those who had lost were less than. He might want to keep an eye on that.
Taking a sip of his own drink, his father drew in a breath and held it a moment. "It's good to see you, Wyatt. I know it's been awhile, but…well, you know."
Twenty-five annuals, Dad, Cain thought. You've been busy that long? Instead, he said, "Yeah."
An uncomfortable silence passed between the two as the noisy bar continued to get louder. The men who had been playing pins with the girl had demanded a rematch, which she was more than delighted to accept. She was already up two points on them.
Swallowing down another good portion of his drink, Guy said, "I heard you got married. Had a son. I was sorry to hear about your wife, but…I bet you raised some boy."
"I didn't raise him," Cain said flatly. "Didn't get a chance."
Guy dropped his eyes. "Yeah, heard about that, too."
As the girl scored again, a frantic looking young man charged into the bar. He was dressed like a sailor and bore a passing resemblance to the girl in that they both had dark hair and eyes. Searching the bar quickly, he found the girl in the middle of her rematch and hurried to join her.
"Hey, Jack!" she said brightly, her light voice carrying over the noise of the room. "I am so glad you could join us. Do you want to play pins too?"
"That's what I wanted to talk to you about, son," Guy said, drawing back Cain's attention.
"What? About how I was stuck in a tin suit for eight annuals?" Cain asked dryly. "Gee, where do I begin?"
Guy groaned loudly. "Aw, hell, Wyatt. Can't we have one conversation that doesn't end in a fight?"
"Nothing in the past says so," Cain shot back.
"Fine, but I figured you might want to hear what I got to say, since it concerns your princess and all."
Cain felt his stomach drop. What could his father possible know that has anything to do with DG? "What?"
Guy smiled. "That got your attention. Didn't it? You always were one for saving damsels in distress."
"Dad," Cain growled.
Drawing a breath, Guy leaned back in his chair, one elbow draped over the back of it. He knew well enough when to get to the point, it just took him a little while to get there sometimes. "I figured your princess and her family would just like to know that there's trouble brewing on the sands."
"What kind of trouble?" Cain asked.
Shrugging, Guy said, "Not sure, son. All I know is that lately, the Deadly Desert is earning her name."
Cain frowned, trying to figure out exactly what his father meant by that, but the trouble he had been expecting to erupt from the girl and the pin game finally came. Cain wasn't sure what was said or what had happened, all he knew was that a fight was breaking out between the men and the boy. And unlike the other fights that had been occurring, this one was quickly spreading across the bar.
Cain glanced at his father. Guy just smiled and shook his head. "Go on then, son. There's a damsel in the distress that's needing your help."
He hesitated just a moment longer, watching as his father as he finished off his drink. Cain knew that if he left, his father wouldn't be there went he got back; but there was someone who did need him. With one last look, he slipped out.
Guy Cain didn't prove him wrong.
Balancing a tray with hot soup, bread, and tea was not as easy as the servant made it out to be. One wrong slosh and instead of serving up the hot meal, you were wearing it. Luckily for DG, she had spent a few years as a waitress so she had gotten pretty good at balancing when it came to trays. And anyone in the palace who had been there for more than a few weeks no longer asked why she had the silver tray hefted up beside her head with one hand instead of carrying it by the two handles like everyone else.
Careful not to step on the bottom of her dress, DG turned down the familiar hallway just in time to hear "Eureka!" It was promptly followed by a small explosion and a series of words that she wasn't sure were curses or not. Probably not, considering who it was, but he might have been using them as substitutes.
"Hey, Jon," she said to the guard standing outside the door.
"Your Highness," he replied as he bowed.
She glanced at the closed door, which had a bit of smoke wafting out from under it, and then back at Jon. "Has he been out at all today?"
Something small twitched on his lips. She assumed the stoic royal guard considered it a smile. "Not since I came on duty, your Highness."
Sighing, DG stepped back and allowed the guard to open the door for her.
Entering Glitch's lab was like entering a minefield. Objects of all sorts were scattered haphazardly around the floor and spilling off workbenches and shelves. Books and notes were either neatly stacked and pinned to the walls or on boards, or were strewn about wherever they were last needed. The writing boards were covered with neat, small writing and equations that DG didn't think that Stephen Hawkings could follow.
Glitch himself was in a back corner somewhere talking to himself. DG couldn't see him yet, but she could hear him muttering continuously as he worked out whatever problem he had come upon for his latest creation. It didn't sound like it was going that well.
Stepping over something that she wasn't sure exactly what it was - but it had sharp things poking out of it so it was probably best to avoid it - DG walked over to a small table set near the only window in the lab. The curtains were still pulled opened, though it was pitch black outside now, and the lights for that side of the room had not been lit. A small stack of letters laid next to the ice cold, half-eaten lunch tray.
Her mother, who had known Ambrose since he was a little boy, had been shocked when Az and DG had described the lab. Apparently, Ambrose had been as neat as Glitch was messy and now the lab was stuck somewhere in the middle.
Shaking her head, DG moved the old tray to a nearby worktable before placing hers down on the now vacant spot. Once that was done, she closed the curtains and then ignited the lights with a snap of her fingers. Maybe all that practice came in handy after all.
"Glitch," she called out.
Something heavy dropped and hit the floor loudly. A few moments later, he came scrambling out from the back area that was hidden by several shelves. DG turned her head to the side and raised an eyebrow. That was 'the garage' as she liked to call it, where he would work on larger machines that sometimes he wasn't strictly supposed too. She just hoped he wasn't working on the sun-seeder again. That thing had caused enough trouble. Plus, though she would never tell him, DG never liked the idea of the original anyway. Seemed to much like trying to play God to her.
So said the girl with magical powers, some little nasty voice said in the back of her mind. She chose to ignore it.
"Princess," he said, sounding happy and nervous. DG couldn't help but notice how his eyes flickered back to his work area as a smile broke out of his face. "What are you doing here?"
DG fought the urge to tell him to call her by her name, not her title, but knew it wouldn't do any good. Ever since he got his brain back, Ambrose had insisted on calling her that and his Glitch side just went along with it.
"I brought you some dinner, which you will eat," she said. Her eyes drifted towards the hidden work area, and she took a step closer to him. "What are you working on?"
Alarm flashed over his face, so Glitch quickly came forward. "Nothing really interesting. Well, brilliant, of course, but not interesting."
"Glitch," DG said slowly.
"Really," he said, ushering her into one of the empty chairs before sitting in the other. Glancing down at his hands and realizing they were covered with oil, Glitch got back up to wash up. "You didn't have to come all the way down here to bring me dinner, Princess."
"Maybe not, but I wanted to be sure that you ate this time," she said. And, of course, ask about Lord Ruggedo.
Glitch retook his seat and smiled down at the meal. Tucking his napkin into his shirt, he picked up his spoon and started to dig in. Pouring herself a cup of tea, DG watched him for a few moments.
"Glitch, can I ask you something?" she asked.
He swallowed another mouth full of soup happily. "Of course."
Leaning forward a bit in her chair, she asked, "Who's Lord Ruggedo?"
Glitch paused for a moment and DG saw something flash through his eyes. There was definitely something about the elusive Lord that she and Az didn't know about.
"He's the High Lord of the O.Z.'s neighboring land of Emon," Glitch recited. That was exactly what Tutor and her parents had told her and Az and that was all they told them. Well, that, and that she better be nice and polite.
"Okay," DG said. "So he's the High Lord of Emon. Does that mean he's their king?"
"More or less," Glitch said, biting into his bread. "The High Lord performs the same functions that your mother does; rule and protect his people. It's monarch all but in name, really."
"Uh huh." Being sure that he wasn't about to swallow anything so he wouldn't choke, she asked, "So, what's my Dad's problem with him, then?"
Even without having anything in his mouth, Glitch still managed to gag a bit at the question. "What?"
"My Dad," she repeated slowly. "Why does he look like he wants to take Lord Ruggedo up in his hot air balloon and let his Highness take the quick way down?"
"I don't know what you mean." Turning back to his work area, Glitch asked, "Hey, why don't I show you what I've been working on? You're going to love it. You're going to love it. I said that already, didn't I? Well, because you are."
He was having a real Glitch moment. Whatever it was, must have been big then. "Glitch," she said.
Pausing mid-word, his mouth hung opened for a second or two before he went on. "Princess - DG, please."
Okay, now she really wanted to know. "Glitch, please. Who is he?"
She watched the internal debate he held with himself before finally looking away. "He, um…well, you see…When your father first came to the O.Z. and meet your mother, she wasn't exactly…well, that is to say, and keep in mind this in the strictest since, she wasn't exactly what you'd call…available at the time."
DG blinked. "What? What do you mean 'wasn't exactly available'?"
"She was, sort of…betrothed, at the time." He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "To Lord Ruggedo."