Here it is! The Big Scene everyone's been waiting for! Many, Many, MANY thanks to SimbaFan for beta reading this chapter for me to help me perfect it! Although I will say, his Grimmerie apparently says "Battering RAMMIGAN" while my Grimmerie very distinctly says "Battering RAMIKIN"... so I did keep my spelling and we'll settle our Ancient Ozian Dialect debate later ;D
Also, very small, you probably wouldn't even notice if I didn't say anything, but one of the lines in the show that drives me nuts is Elphaba's "It's the Wizard who should be afraid of me." No, dear. He just made you the enemy of Oz because he is afraid of you and the fact that you know the truth. So I took a little word switch liberty (love you Winnie Holzman!). Enjoy all!
Blah! Published before I realized I forgot separations between sections in the story... Fixed it!
The girls came out of the Emerald Skyline Theatre mouths abuzz as they discussed Wizomania. Elphaba had never been to see a show in a theatre before, and it had been a wondrous experience! The singing and dancing and costumes and sets! It had been thrilling. The show didn't have much of a plot, to Elphaba's slight disappointment, but so little was known about their Wizard, she supposed there really wasn't enough information to create much of a story. Still the songs of praise had been fun and entertaining. A bit long, but fun.
"Who's enthuse for hot air ballooning, has all of us honeymooning?" Glinda sang. Nessa finished, dancing a little as well, "Ooooooo! Isn't he wonderful? Our wonderful Wizard!"
Captain Cherrystone smiled at the girls' excitement, directing them to a small museum next door presenting the history of the Wizard's arrival and the building of the great capital of Oz. Glinda immediately lost interest, wanting to visit more boutiques, but it was Elphaba's turn to drag her friend around to places of interest. By the time they had finished the museum, it was starting to get dark. Sort of. There were so many lights in the city, it was impossible to tell how much daylight might have been left. Captain Cherrystone had arranged for a carriage to take them to a restaurant for dinner and then the time finally came. Excitement began to wear off a little and nerves started to take hold. Elphaba was about to meet Oz's ruler! Hardly anyone ever saw the Wizard, and she was about to be among the few. She couldn't have been more thankful that Glinda and Nessa were there with her for support.
Please don't let me say anything stupid, she prayed silently as the carriage turned a street corner to reveal the grand palace before them. The girls gaped as they were led into a spectacular atrium. The walls and ceiling appeared to be green glass and the floors a polished emerald stone. Gold could be seen here and there throughout as curtain trims, furniture legs, pillow patterns, and large, decorative frames.
"Why are there paintings of the Ozmas?" Glinda whispered as if she were on hallowed ground. Elphaba looked from side to side of the room and saw many portraits of the Great Queens and their families concluding, "This is the site of the original palace of the Ozmas. The Wizard probably kept the paintings in their honor."
"Too much green and gold," Nessa commented. "Hope you're all right with it looking like Lurlinemas year round."
"Thanks for ruining it for me," Elphaba grimaced.
Cherrystone guided the girls up a carpeted staircase and down more lavish halls to a pair of massive gilded doors.
"The Wizard will see you now," the captain said as he pulled a door open and allowed the girls to enter. The sound of the great door slamming shut behind them caused the trio to spin back, startled, only to find themselves quite alone in the high arched and darkened hallway.
"I don't really like this anymore," Nessa murmured from Elphaba's left.
"It is a little daunting," the honored guest agreed.
"I feel really small," Glinda squeaked. Nessa and Elphaba turned and pointedly looked down at her to which she haughtily replied, "Well aren't we funny?"
The three stayed close together as they walked the length of the hall. The end opened into an imposing throne room. At center was a dais with a golden throne and a massive golden head suspended in mid air over it. The eyes of the head flashed from blue to red and smoke erupted from the floor. Elphaba could feel herself freeze in shock at the specter as the giant head focused right on her.
"I am Oz!" the head said in a booming voice that echoed about the room. "I am Oz! The Great and Terrible! Who are you, and why do you seek me?"
Glinda was now hiding behind her friend, "Elphie! Say something!"
The green girl took a brave step forward, her support system hung back, cowering. So much for support.
"I am Elphaba Thropp, Your Terribleness!" she shouted above the hissing of the smoke as she bowed subserviently. "And this is -"
"Oh, is that you Elphaba? I didn't realize!" a much less threatening and slightly muffled voice called from behind the head. The smoke stopped billowing, the eyes of the great head dimmed, and the head itself shifted to a lifeless position with the creaks and groans of metal. Elphaba didn't realize how hard her heart had been pounding until the threat was seemingly obliterated.
A tall man in a long beige coat, yellow gloves, and odd looking goggles came out from behind the monstrous contraption. He pulled the goggles down to hang about his neck and began to pull the gloves off his hands grinning, "I hope I didn't startle you!"
"Not much you didn't," Nessa hissed almost inaudibly.
"It is so hard to make out people's faces when I'm back there," the man was continuing. "Now let's see, which is... witch?"
He chuckled to himself before reaching welcomingly to the green girl. "Elphaba!"
The girl let out a breath, nerves nearly gone. So this was the Wizard. A friendly, middle aged and silvering man, who was seemingly unlike every description of the Great Oz she had ever heard. Of course, there were stories that the Wizard could take different forms, but if that was true, this appeared to be his natural manifestation. She happily accepted the man's outstretched hand.
"A pleasure, Elphaba!" he smiled so broadly that the green girl could feel the contagion spreading on her own face. The Wizard turned to the others while Elphaba meandered over to the giant head. Hesitantly she reached up to touch it. Cold, hard, lifeless metal. Some sort of tik-tok. That's all it was. Well that was a relief, but why...?
"I know. It's a bit much," the Wizard said answering her thoughts. "But people expect this sort of thing, and you have to give people what they want."
Elation filled her once again, "I am so happy to meet you!"
"Well, that's good, because that's what I love best: making people happy!" he grinned at her. "Now tell me, what mischief did you three find yourselves in today?"
As Glinda initiated the animated retelling of their excursion about the city and Nessa added her own input where necessary, Elphaba watched the Wizard with a growing feeling of fondness. He was very eager to hear everything about them, asked them all sorts of questions, making sure they were having a wonderful time. He was almost fatherly. Very much the way Elphaba felt about... Dr. Dillamond. Dr. Dillamond. The Wizard!
"We saw Wizomania!" Nessa was saying.
"What did you think?"
"I loved it!" Glinda gushed. "Elphie thought it went on too long."
Elphaba grinned embarrassed, nudged her friend in the ribs with her elbow, "Shush."
But the Wizard took Elphaba's hand again, laughing and winking, "I think you may be right. And now, my dear, I believe I asked you here for a reason."
"Your Ozness, I actually have a reason of my own for wanting to meet you," she said, drawing curious looks from her companions. "I know you can help. The Animals, sir -"
He silenced her with a gesture of his hands, "I, my dear, am the Wizard of Oz! I already know why you've come."
Oh! Well that was... awing. In a creepy, omniscient kind of way. Nessa and Glinda looked at each other and "Ooo"ed.
"And I fully intend to grant your request," the Wizard continued. "Of course, you must prove yourself first."
Elphaba didn't really understand why, her abilities had nothing to do with the Animals' plight, but Glinda piped up before she could ask, "Of course!"
The tiny girl pushed Elphaba from behind and urged, "Prove yourself. Prove yourself!"
The young sorceress shot daggers at her friend before turning to the Wizard. "But how?"
The kindly man smiled and called, "Madame! The book!"
"Right away, Your Ozness!"
All three girls spun to find none other than their headmistress approaching them, her hideous red dresses swapped out for a green one that really wasn't much better.
"Madame Morrible!" Glinda cried with glee.
"I believe you are all well acquainted with my new Press Secretary," the Wizard said with a flourish of his arm to his new employee. Elphaba gave her professor a congratulatory smile, "Press Secretary?"
"Yes, dearie, I've risen up in the world!" the woman gushed. "You'll find that the Wizard is a very generous man. If you do something for him, he will do much for you."
Elphaba looked between her professor and the Wizard, relieved that her tutor had not completely abandoned her on this journey. "What would you like me to do?"
"Well, this is my Monkey servant, Chistery," the Wizard introduced as he indicated the Creature Elphaba had not yet seen perched above the tik-tok head. The Monkey, dressed in a yellow vest and a formal, red jacket with tails, climbed down to his Master's side, but then loped over to the green girl, hugging her about the legs.
"Hello, Chistery," she said and patted him on the head. He cocked his head and looked up at her with a big, toothy grin.
"He watches the birds so longingly every morning..." the Wizard mused.
"So His Ozness was thinking, perhaps a levitation spell?" Morrible finished, lifting an ancient book she had been carrying in the crook of her arm. Its russet leather cover and binding was beginning to crack and flake with age, and its pages had turned yellow over time, but otherwise the tome seemed to have been carefully preserved.
"I can't believe it!" Glinda gasped as she stepped forward. "Is that the Grimmerie?"
"Yes," Morrible said as she began to page through the leafs. "The ancient book of thaumaturgy and enchantment."
Nessa shrunk away slightly, still edgy around magic. Glinda, on the other hand, was continuing her dreamlike gait forward, hand outstretched. "Can I touch it?"
Morrible pulled the book back to her protectively with a resolute, "No."
The woman sniffed as she walked by Glinda headed for her protégé. She held the book out for Elphaba, who gawked at the silver symbols on the page Morrible had marked for her, "What funny writing."
"Yes, it is a lost language. The language of spells."
Elphaba took the book from her teacher's hands, gaze captured by the text as it magically swirled before her.
"A kind of recipe book for change."
The book seemed to be calling to her, pulling her out of the throne room and into its pages, but even as the room about her melted into nothingness, she sensed something was amiss. Some danger lurking beneath the beautiful, shifting symbols. The power there intimidated her a little and she tried to pull herself out of the book, but she was helpless to resist its strengthening hold on her. It enthralled her, the risk of attempting the unknown. She had to do this. Not just to prove her full worth to those left behind in the throne room, but also to herself. Magic bubbled up from the book, coursing into her body begging to be released till it ached to retain the power any longer. She could hear her voice speaking, not fully comprehending how she simply knew the pronunciations of the unusual words she'd never seen before, "Ahben tahkay ahben tahkay ahben ahtum ahben tahkaya entaya ahben tahkay -"
A shriek of agony tore Elphaba out of her trance. She was kneeling on the floor, the book spread in front of her and her arms raised in mid motion from casting the spell. Looking up, she saw Chistery on the floor thrashing about, his hands tearing at his back in anguish.
"What is it?" Elphaba cried out in panic. "Is something wrong?"
"It's just the transition, dearie," Morrible explained rather nonchalantly in spite of the sounds of pain. Elphaba leaned towards the ailing Monkey, "Chistery, are you all right?"
But the Monkey didn't respond, continuing to scream.
"Why can't he answer me?"
The back of his coat suddenly shredded as a pair of giant, bat like wings sprouted. Chistery scrambled to his feet, confused and angered. He took one look at the new appendages protruding from his back and hissed at Elphaba, then climbed up to the top of the Wizard's head, still shrieking.
"Elphie! You did it! You actually did it!"
"No!" the young sorceress cried in horror and went back to the magic book, vainly searching the text. "He's in pain! Quick, how can I fix it?"
"What?" Elphaba exclaimed. "First semester, dearie! Spells are irreversible!"
"But that doesn't mean -"
"I knew it!" Morrible ignored her panicked student entirely, taking the Wizard's hands. "I knew she had the power, I told you!"
Elphaba looked helplessly between her professor and the Wizard. "You... you planned all this?"
"For you too, dearie! You benefit too!"
"And this is only the beginning! Look!" the Wizard exclaimed and went to the side of the great head. There was a lever hidden somewhere there, Elphaba could only see the Wizard's hand go through the motion of lowering it.
A rumble quaked the room and the wall behind the Wizard's throne suddenly split in two, the crack which revealed the secret doors previously hidden in the darkness of the room. The sides slid apart revealing a huge cage filled with many more now winged Monkeys, all screeching horribly and pulling at the bars of the cage. Elphaba covered her ears and closed her eyes as her heart thumped harder in her chest. What have I done?
Her mind was racing. Why hadn't she listened to her gut feeling? She had sensed danger, why had she ignored it? She didn't understand the foreign language of the Grimmerie, so why did she think that it was entirely safe? She'd been too eager to please, too trusting, and too weak to resist long enough to allow herself ten seconds to think straight. Now she was at fault for causing harm to innocents. She was always at fault. Always! Now she understood why Frex had hated her all her life. For all of her intelligence, she was a pathetic, miserable excuse for a sensibly thinking human being! Why couldn't she just think before she acted out of stupidity?
After a minute or two the pained cries muffled and died with the rejoining of the walls.
"If this is what you can do on your first time out, the sky's the limit!"
"Such wingspan! Oh won't they make perfect spies?"
Elphaba hugged herself, mind reeling. Everything was happening too fast. She didn't understand what was going on or why she had been dragged into this den of nightmares. All she knew right then was that she wished she was home, wished she had never come to the Emerald City, and wished more than ever that she had not been cursed with this blessing of magical ability.
"You're right," the Wizard consoled, leaning over her as he might over a hurt child. "That is a harsh word. How about 'scouts'? Well that's what they'll be really, they'll fly around Oz and report back any subversive Animal activity."
The realization was like a slap in the face. "So it's you? You're behind it all?"
"Elphaba, when I first got here, there was discord and discontent. And you know the best way to bring folks together is to give them a really good enemy," he reasoned. Elphaba didn't find that very reasonable, she found it sick and twisted.
She looked up into the kindly face of the Wizard and felt her dreams crumble around her. He wasn't a wizard. He was a con artist who had enchanted a nation, and now the spell was broken. At least for her. He wanted her to lie for him, to aide him in his wicked deeds in order to strengthen his deceit. It made her nauseous. She picked up the Grimmerie with shaking hands, eyes stinging with threatening tears. "You can't read this book at all, can you? That's why you need an 'enemy' and spies and cages!"
She could hardly get the words to form in her mouth, "You have no real power."
She watched his expression change from caring to fear to persuasive. "Exactly, and that's why I need you, don't you see? The world is your oyster now! You have so many opportunities ahead of you. You all do! Everyone deserves the chance to fly!"
No. Not like this. Not at the Animals' expense, she thought miserably, still trying to grasp the truth.
"Oh, come now, Miss Elphaba, you are making a spectacle of yourself," Morrible was berating her, reaching for her, lifting her from the floor. "The Wizard is offering you a position directly under him! The second most powerful person in Oz! Now who wouldn't pine for such a place?"
She looked at the man who called himself the ruler of Oz and felt crushed. He reached an open hand for her, begging her to take it, forget the Animals, and become his little magical puppet. A glance to her friend and her sister. Glinda pointedly nodded towards the Wizard. Elphaba was being stupid to pass up this chance. Nessa looked frightened. Frightened of her own sister. Or perhaps of what her sister might do.
The green girl whirled on the fake wizard shouting, "No!"
And then she ran. The Grimmerie was hugged tightly to her chest as she pounded out of the throne room, down the long hall, and out the golden doors. Cherrystone was waiting on the other side, but was caught up in his confusion before he started after her. The massive voice of the tik-tok wizard head could be heard echoing from the throne room calling for his guards. Cherrystone did not follow her as she began to run into the maze of halls.
She heard Glinda and Nessa calling her from behind, but she did not hesitate for them to catch up. She could get caught, and she couldn't afford to let that happen. Not now that she knew the truth, denied the so-called wizard, and stolen the ancient magic book.
Elphaba came to the main staircase and ran down it without much thought, but she realized that she was not at the grand atrium that would lead out into the city. She had no idea where she was, but it looked like some sort of ballroom. Footsteps behind her, she turned and saw her frightened companions charging down the stairs.
"What are you doing?" Glinda breathed as she came up beside her friend. "You can't just -"
A door slammed open somewhere above them. The girls looked up to see soldiers pouring out of a darkened doorway on a balcony, a hint of smoke wafting out after them. A side door to the throne room. How inconvenient. Elphaba was running again before she heard one shout, "There they are!"
The sounds of Nessa and Glinda's feet were not far behind. She came to a spiral staircase down a back hallway, possibly around servants' quarters by the lack of extreme decoration, but no less emerald in hue. She went up. All the way up, watching as the emerald color faded into raw stone, undoubtedly beyond the limits of public visitation. Elphaba burst through the door at the top of the spiral stairs, fighting a sizable stitch in her side, she half limped about her new surroundings. It was a circular room filled with dusty old boxes and cobwebbed objects long forgotten. There was one large, open window which provided dim light from the city outside, and no other way out.
But Elphaba was spinning, heading for the door as the other two girls burst into the room behind her. "It's an attic, go back!"
She approached the top step, but heard the echoing sounds of other bodies in the stairwell. She retreated back into the room and slammed the door, "The guards are coming up! We'll have to barricade it!"
"What?" the blonde shrieked. Elphaba glanced about the room, eyes falling on a broom. "I'll use this!"
She stowed the Grimmerie in her bag before grabbing the broom and awkwardly sliding its shaft through the handle of the door, lucky that the broom itself was long enough to catch the wall on either side. Should anyone try to pull it open from the other side, they would have a tough time doing so. Or so Elphaba hoped. She backed away from the door as the footsteps behind it grew louder. Someone attempted to open the door and Glinda screamed.
"There she is! Fetch the battering ramikin!" ordered a voice from the other side. There were a few more tugs on the door, some pounding and an order to open the door, but then the guards gave up and all fell silent. Elphaba became aware of gasping breaths and turned to the other two occupants of the room.
"What the Kumbric Witch are you thinking, Elphie?" Glinda demanded. "Why couldn't you just stay calm for once instead of flying off the handle? Don't you realize that you can't help the Animals from prison?"
"What was I supposed to do?" Elphaba snapped. "Grovel before that... snake in submission? What are you thinking running after me, Glinda? I thought you wanted your fame and glory! He just offered it to you, and I'm officially out of the picture, so you can rise all the way to the top if you wanted!"
"The only way you can help the Animals is to work for him, Elphaba Thropp! The Wizard -"
"He's not a wizard!"
"Stop! Both of you just stop!" Nessa cried suddenly. Elphaba realized how close she was to Glinda's face, angrily pulled away. Her little sister was almost in tears, she looked pale and frightened as she stood there, hands clenched into fists at her sides. The older sibling began to feel sick again. She'd dragged Nessa into harm's way. If the younger girl got hurt, again Elphaba would be at fault.
"We have to find another way out of here," she said quietly. Glinda looked like she was about to retort when an amplified voice rang out in the sky beyond.
"Citizens of Oz!" It was Morrible's voice, announcing her news to the entire city it seemed. "There is a enemy who must be found and captured! Believe nothing she says, she is evil! Responsible for the mutilation of theses poor, innocent Monkeys! Her green skin is but an outward manifestorium of her... twisted nature. This distortion, this repulsion! This WICKED WITCH!"
Her mind was numb. This wasn't actually happening. It couldn't! This was just a bad dream. A really horrible nightmare. She was asleep and when she woke up, it would be a new day. She'd be at Shiz in her bed, safe and sound. Glinda would be there, Nessa not too far away. She would wake up and laugh at the absurdity of it all. Madame Morrible would be her overly sweet natured self, and the Wizard would still be as wonderful as she'd always dreamed him to be. It was all a dream, wasn't it?
"Don't be afraid."
The pinch that proved her wrong. She was afraid. No, she was terrified! But something was stirring inside her. It was small, but gradually growing as it began to gnaw away at her fear. She could picture Dr. Dillamond's furry face bravely stating that he would never let the Wizard silence him. Where her professor was currently, Oz only knew, but she was in the same league as the Animals now. Their fight was now her own. She had to take up Dr. Dillamond's cause, had to make herself heard throughout this deafened land, for his sake and for all those who had been cursed by the Wizard's lies. In that she suddenly found strength.
"I'm not," she said steadily to Glinda who had latched herself to Elphaba's arm. "It's the Wizard who is afraid of me."
"Elphie, listen to me," the tiny blonde pleaded. "Just say you're sorry before it's too late. You could still have everything you ever wanted. You've worked so hard for it."
"I can't," the young sorceress whispered. She felt both despair and determination, and she had to hold onto the latter otherwise she'd lose entirely. "I'm tired, Glinda. I'm tired of playing by his rules and accepting his limits. I can't fix the damage already done. I don't have a second chance anymore, but that doesn't mean I can't change things. I know that in choosing to run I'll never be accepted by this world, but if I chose to stay, if the Wizard took back those words against me and I became some revered leader... The cost is too high. I don't want to lie, I don't want to be his puppet on a string, I don't want to be loved if it means I can't be free. I have to defy the Wizard."
Elphaba contemplated the metaphoric and suddenly literal possibility. Neither Nessa or Glinda had actually done any harm to the Wizard. He wouldn't hurt them if they were caught by the guards... If she could just...
"Open this door in the name of His Supreme Ozness!"
Elphaba jumped as the pounding on the door began again. She pulled the Grimmerie out of her bag and fell to the floor, frantically flipping through the pages, trying to find the spell she had used earlier on Chistery. At last her eyes spotted familiar symbols and her instincts told her to stop there.
"Ahben tahtay ahtum entay ditum anteyah..."
This isn't the same.
"Ahben tahtay ahtum entay ditum anteyah..."
There was too much noise about her, distracting her. Glinda was starting to yell at her.
"Ahben tahtay -"
Silence crashed down on Elphaba's ears. She winced, expecting the same painful fate the Monkeys had suffered, but nothing happened.
"Well? Where are your wings?" Glinda asked, but she sounded shaken.
"Elphaba," Nessa said quietly and just as upset, "maybe you're just not ready to do such advanced magic."
The girl looked back down at the book, flipped through the pages again, desperate to find something, when Glinda gasped, "Sweet Oz!"
Elphaba looked up at her friend, then followed her gaze to the door where the broom was floating within the restraint of the door handle, trying to free itself. She got up and started toward it, but then the guards' pounding on the door resumed. She jumped back and turned to Glinda and her sister.
"I don't know if it'll hold all three of us."
Glinda looked dumbfounded, "Elphie, you don't even know if it'll be able to hold you, much less fly away! It's suicide!"
Elphaba looked to her sister, but Nessa was avoiding eye contact. The green girl felt abandoned, "I can't do this on my own. You heard Morrible, she just turned all of Oz against me!"
Her friend huffed, "Oh, Elphie, don't be so overdramatical."
"Don't you realize that as Press Secretary whatever Morrible says or does is coming directly from the Wizard? They can't let me go blabbing the truth about him if either of them want to remain in power, but they don't have to worry about that much if they can so easily make me the new enemy of Oz. I'm already a thing to be feared because I'm different. What's a few more lies? What's the life of one freak compared to a country-full of happily ignorant people?"
The truth of the matter finally dawned on Glinda, and Elphaba didn't hesitate with her proposal, "Come with me. Everyone loves you, Glinda. Together we'd have a fighting chance to change things. Please."
The tiny girl looked up at her friend sadly, "You're trembling."
She glanced about and Elphaba knew that this was the denial. Glinda wasn't going to help her. The blonde found an old, black cloak lying in a heap on one of the boxes, picked it up, and shook it out sending a dust cloud into the air about her. She returned to her green friend and threw the fabric about the bony shoulders.
"I'm sorry, Elphie," she whispered, not looking at the taller girl as if she were ashamed. "But I can't go with you."
Elphaba felt a lump catch in her throat, but quickly sought Nessa. Her sister appeared torn, but at a glance the green girl resigned to the fact that Nessa was too frightened to help as well. And she couldn't put the her sister through further danger.
There was a good amount of commotion outside the door suddenly. The guards who had been sent for the battering ram had returned, and it wouldn't take much for them to break through the door and the levitating broom as well. Elphaba ran to the door, silently slid the broom from its restraint and ran for a pile of boxes to hide behind as she heard the door crack under the weight of the siege. The second attempt to break down the door was successful. Glinda screamed as soldiers poured into the room. Nessa suddenly appeared around the side of the boxes and hunkered down beside her sister.
"I'm coming with you."
Elphaba hardly had time to process her sister's words.
"There she is!"
The green girl jumped, but realized that no one had discovered her yet.
"Don't let her get away!"
"Leave me alone! Do you hear? Let go of me!"
Elphaba thrust the broom out before her and ordered, "Get on."
Nessa did so, if hesitantly, and Elphaba seated herself behind, wrapping one arm about her sister's waist and firmly gripping the broom handle with her free hand. She felt the thing thrum with power and felt exhilaration suddenly shoot up through her hand and into her body. It was like the broom was alive, an extension of her own body ready to do whatever she willed it to.
"Where are the others?"
"Yes, where's your green friend?"
"Please! I didn't do anything!"
"It's not her!" Elphaba shouted from her hiding spot, her voice reverberating off the stone walls. "She had nothing to do with it. I'm the one you want. It's me!"
The boxes piled before her went tumbling through the air with a powerful blast of magic. Some hit guards, dazing them, but mostly it provided a distraction until Elphaba kicked off the ground and was suddenly floating weightless in the air. Nessa shrieked as Elphaba urged the broom forward, then took a parting glance back over her shoulder. None of the guards carried guns, only spears. They were going to make it. She saw Glinda, eyes widened and mouth hanging open, smirked at her, then flew off giddily into the night sky.
Glinda was exhausted. She felt drained physically and of every emotion her body could produce. After she had been returned to the throne room, recounted what had happened in the attic room, and pledged her undying allegiance to the Wizard, Madame Morrible had insisted that she go to the grand quarters she had been offered at the palace and rest after such an upsetting evening.
The 'official' story was that Glinda had ended up being the lucky girl offered the position as the Wizard's Grand Vizier, that she had brought her friends along, and that the... wicked witch had blown up in a fit of jealous rage and run off in determination to destroy the peaceful land of Oz. Nessa was, at least for now, an innocent bystander in the story, kidnapped by her own sister. But this was the part of the story that truly disturbed the blonde.
Glinda plopped down her feather bed and tried to recreate the last moment she had seen her friends. She remembered the guards stumbling to get out of the way of flying boxes. She saw Elphaba on the broom rising into the air. Nessa was with her. Nessa had looked terrified and had been screaming. Elphaba had been holding her. Very tightly. And the last glimpse she had seen of her dear roomie's face... that horrible, almost twisted half smile was the only thing she had seen from under the shadows of the hat brim. Had Elphaba actually kidnapped Nessa? Had she been so scared to run on her own that she'd forced Nessa to go with her? Had her friend truly lost it in that instance? Was the smile really as menacing as Glinda kept picturing it?
The petite girl saw her luggage sitting by the door, along with Nessa's and Elphaba's. She quickly got up from the bed and rushed for her friend's suitcase. There had to be something there. Something to reassure her that she was imagining things, that her old Elphie had not completely taken leave of her senses. Glinda discovered an envelope among Elphaba's change of clothes. According to the date on the front, and the fact that it was still unopened, it had probably only just arrived at Shiz the previous evening.
She tore the envelope open, withdrew the letter inside, and began to read. The words brought new tears to her eyes. It was from Elphie's father, praising and wishing her the best of luck when she went to meet the Wizard. Glinda couldn't bring herself to finish reading it, but did catch her name mentioned towards the end.
Please give the smaller envelope enclosed to Miss Galinda. I should have gotten it out to her earlier.
She searched the bigger envelope for the supposed second and quickly opened it as well once she found it. Inside was a stiffened and smaller than standard sized piece of paper on which was printed three smiling faces eager to begin a new semester at school. The photograph Governor Thropp had promised to send her. Glinda sobbed, feeling every bit the dirty traitor her Elphie surely believed her to be.
There had been no time to think. Had she a few minutes longer, Nessa would not have jumped on the broom and escaped with her sister. She had discovered extremely quickly that flight was a terrifying experience she never wished to go through again. And yet, Elphaba had only been able to fly so far from the city before the insufficient moonlight had caused her to direct them down into a wooded area, although where they were neither sister could say. In the morning, they would fly again, far from the reaches of immediate danger. Nessa wished more than ever that she was home.
Her arms were wrapped tightly around Elphaba's waist and her face was pressed into her sister's chest, but she could not sleep. And she knew Elphaba couldn't either. She felt her sister's fingers gently brush her arm from time to time comfortingly, but whether the gesture was to comfort the younger or older girl was hard to say. The sounds of the forest at night were foreign and unsettling to the sisters as was the darkness. No, it wasn't dark. Nessa was used to darkness. This was black. Pure, unadulterated black. Moonlight fought to peek in through the leaves of the trees, but was swallowed completely long before it reached the forest floor.
The sisters were sheltered in between the massive roots of a tree, but they were not protected. They were quite exposed to whatever they couldn't see out in the darkness beyond.
"Faba?" Nessa suddenly squeaked.
"What?" came the bodiless whisper. Nessa hadn't anything to say, she hadn't meant to say anything at all. Fear had simply driven her to outburst. Nessa clenched her sister tighter, on the verge of tears. Elphaba tightened her hold on her little sister and began to hum an old lullaby that she used to sing when she was in charge of putting little Nessa to bed some years ago.
Nessa didn't fall asleep that night, and the lullaby lasted till dawn.