Author: NebulaSpider

Rating: T for now, will eventually be M

Title: Elemental Forces

Summary: DG managed to save her family and the OZ from the Witch. Despite everything, she still can't control her magic. Will she be able to break down her barriers and embrace herself and her legacy before another threat to the OZ threatens her life once again?

Disclaimer: Tin Man, Wizard of OZ or anything associated with it belong in no way, shape, or form to me. Sadly, this includes Cain's gun. For some reason, there's no money either. ::pouts::

The main palace of the rulers of the Outer Zone lay in the exact center of Central City, on a gentle rise that lifted the towers and spires well above the rest of the city. The building itself was constructed along a common city design; somewhat narrow but tall to preserve space. Since it was the home of the ruling family, however, gardens and walkways offered the illusion of privacy and isolation from the rest of the city. And never mind the constant noise, thought one of its inhabitants wryly. Or even the fact that we are supposed to be somewhat accessible to the people.

"DG!" a man snapped in exasperation. "Can I please have your undivided attention for even five minutes? You will never master your magic if you cannot manage to focus."

The young woman in question jumped in surprise and dragged her thoughts away from the city and back toward Tutor. "Sorry, Toto," she mumbled. "I'm just frustrated. I don't really feel like I've gotten anywhere with these exercises. Not that I think it's your fault," she added hastily as one of his eyebrows arched. "I just can't seem to do them correctly, or even at all." She lapsed into a glum silence, waiting for Tutor to tell her that she simply was not focusing enough. She heard variations of that sentiment at least once a week, and generally more often.

The magic lessons were a sore point with DG right now. Once she accepted that magic was real and she possessed it, she assumed that learning how to use it would be somewhat intuitive since she spent hours as a child learning the basics. Unfortunately, it turned out that wasn't even close to the reality. True, she could feel the magic inside of her. It was comforting and familiar, almost like warm bath water as she embraced it. She even managed to regain the proficiency she had as a child. She was quite good at levitating objects and moving them in very simple ways so long as they were in her line of sight. That was the absolute extent of her progress. No matter what forms of magic Tutor tried to teach her, DG failed at making it work. Oh, she knew how to do it well enough. Since the practical application seemed to be beyond her, Tutor gleefully tortured her with daily lessons on magical theory and principles. At this point, she figured she probably knew more about the why of magic than either her mother or her sister. As much as she hated it, she did have to admit that the knowledge helped her to just barely squeak through her mother's interrogations on the progress of her lessons. Another similar "interview" was scheduled for later this afternoon and she had been dreading it all week.

"I've really been trying, Toto," DG continued softly after a moment of silence. She stared at the ground, unwilling to see how she disappointed another person. "Maybe you and the queen were wrong. Maybe the things I did during the Eclipse were just a fluke, or a side effect of mother giving me her life force. Or maybe I'm just an amplifier for Az and her power."

Tutor heaved a deep sigh and DG cringed. "No, DG, I know you've been trying. You have tried harder in the past six weeks than you have in the entire six months you have been in the OZ again combined. You certainly have the theory down." He paused for a second, thinking hard. "I know the power is there. I have more than enough ability to see that much. I can even tell that you should be one of the strongest, most accomplished elemental mages in centuries. That aspect of your magic shines so brightly when I feel for it that it seems to burn me. It's almost as if…" He trailed off as an idea occurred to him. He knelt to place his hand on a patch of bare earth.

It was the only thing that saved his life. There was a slight rustle and then a knife blade gleamed in the sunlight as it passed through the space Tutor's body had just occupied. Had he been standing, the blade would have hit him solidly in the throat. DG was already turning from some slight half-buried instinct, but she was too slow to completely evade the blade aimed at her. The knife hit her shoulder hard enough to make her stagger backward several steps from the sheer force of it. She dropped into a crouch with a cry of agony and surprise.

"DG!" Tutor cried out in alarm as he saw the blood spilling down her arm. "Guards!" he shouted at the top of his deep voice. "Guards! To the princess! Assassin!" A man burst out of the bushes and launched himself toward them. The man cursed viciously when he saw them both alive and reached for another blade on his belt. This one was too long to throw. Tutor flung himself in between DG and the assassin, grappling for the dagger desperately. The man's face was fixed in a rictus of crazed rage. He landed a wild blow to Tutor's head that dazed him just enough to allow the man to throw him to one side. Tutor shimmered into his dog form and tried to distract the man from DG again but he wasn't big enough or strong enough to make a difference. The man kicked him aside in contempt. He watched in despair, barking madly as he tried to get up again, as the man leaped for DG again and brought his dagger back for a killing blow.

DG was moving too sluggishly to do more than try to stagger away from him. She watched the sun catch the metal and scatter. It seemed to descend in slow motion and she reached a hand out to catch the blade and keep it from her throat. The sharp edge touched her palm and bit deep, making her cry out again. Pain lanced up her arm and she stumbled back another step but she couldn't keep her balance and fell to the ground again. Her attacker snarled. He lunged at her a final time and this time DG knew she would not be able to evade him again. I'm sorry, she thought idly, not sure what she meant it for.

She pushed her injured hand against the ground to try to roll away from him despite her conviction that she couldn't make it in time. As soon as the blood from her hand touched the ground, light flared up all around her. DG tried to yank her hand away to protect her eyes from its brightness, but it seemed glued to the ground. As her life blood poured into the earth, power poured out of her, responding to her danger as it never responded to her will. The man cried out in despair and rage as the light flung him across the garden. He landed with a dull thud, stirred once then collapsed and was still. The light disappeared as quickly as it flared up.

DG collapsed fully on the ground to curl up in her own blood, trembling violently as adrenaline and pain washed over her. The entire attack took up possibly only 30 or 40 seconds but it felt like at least an hour to her. I'm going into shock, she realized. She was very cold all of a sudden and she couldn't stop shaking. Even her thoughts were thick and felt cottony and everything seemed to be happened at an incredible distance away from her. She watched hazily as guards burst into the clearing with drawn weapons.

Their lieutenant barked out orders and two men dashed toward the palace. Two others started a comprehensive search in the surrounding clumps of bushes. One soldier knelt briefly by the assassin and shook his head. "He's dead, sir, of a broken neck." That soldier then went to assist Toto who still seemed shaky.

The lieutenant knelt by DG to check over her injuries. He mentally prepared himself for the worst, fully expecting from the amount of blood she was lying in that the princess had life-threatening wounds. Somewhat to his relief, they did not look too bad. The knife lodged under her left collarbone surely hurt a lot, but the knife itself prevented it from bleeding too badly. Her right hand was slashed clear down to bone and the thumb looked half-severed from the force of the blade. To the lieutenant's experienced eyes, it was clearly a defensive injury and by far the more serious of the two.

He shrugged out of his jacket and proceeded to tear his shirt into long strips. One long strip he wound tightly about her forearm. The rest of it he wound around the hand itself, trying to staunch the blood flow from the injury itself. The princess moaned lightly in pain and writhed slightly in protest. The cloth almost instantly soaked through. "Steton," the lieutenant barked. Steton was a step ahead of him and had already taken off his own shirt.

DG groaned a little at the additional pressure on her hand and looked up at the two guards kneeling over her. The palace guards are all in great shape, she thought inanely, watching the muscles ripple in their toned chests. She dragged her mind back to what mattered. "Is Tutor okay?" One of them nodded and she closed her eyes a moment in relief. "Can you pull out this damned knife?" she asked hopefully.

The lieutenant shook his head regretfully. "It's best that we don't, Princess," he said. "Not only is it going to hurt like hell, it's keeping the wound from bleeding too much and you're losing enough blood from your hand as it is."

She sighed and struggled to sit up. Steton made as if to push her back down, but she glared up at him. "Help me up," she said. "I am not going to continue lying on bloody dirt where I was almost killed and returned the favor." Her throat closed up for a second, but she pushed it back to deal with later. She was not going to start crying in front of her guards. Most of them were tough men, used to loss from the Witch's reign and her marauding Longcoats. They would not appreciate a sign of weakness from her.

Once it was clear that she was going to stand up and walk back to the palace under her own power no matter what anyone thought about it, the guards gave in to the inevitable and helped her up as gently as they could. Pain pulsed throughout DG's body, in waves so great her vision blurred at the edges. Her knees seemed to get weak and wobbly, but she gritted her teeth and forced her legs to hold her upright.

The lieutenant swore under his breath and wrapped his left arm around her waist. "Come on, Princess," he said. "We're not that far from the palace, but I wish you would wait for a stretcher."

DG didn't answer him. All of her concentration was devoted to staying conscious and more or less upright. The closer they got to the palace, the more she seemed to be leaning on the lieutenant and the more he seemed to swear. "You have a dirty mouth, Lieutenant," she said, amused. At least, that's what she thought she said. Her tongue didn't seem to want to cooperate with her and her words came out sounding like she tried to speak through a mouthful of oatmeal. The lieutenant pulled her to a stop and swung around to look in her eyes. "Princess?" he said softly, his eyes full of concern. "Princess, can you hear me?"

DG started blankly at him for a moment. She knew he was trying to talk to her, but she couldn't hear anything except for a distant roaring. With a quiet sigh of relief, she felt the world spin away beneath her and let the darkness at the edge of her vision take her away completely.

AN: I am so excited about my storyline so far. I have great vision, I tell you! LOL, anyway, I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do. I actually know where I'm going with this one, so although updates won't be every day, they shouldn't be too terribly far apart.