The mail stagecoach made its noisy way through the winding and arbitrary paths of Shiz; its spoke-like wheels clacked along the mismatched cobblestones. It was an elaborate vehicle, as was the style. Made of lush Quoxwood, deep blood red wound its way, trimming the carriage in twisting looped patterns.
Two Animals, Trox and Enfrox pulled the carriage; Horse brothers that were rather dull in coat, similarly as they were in stimulating discussion topics; hence the reason current conversation had turned to supposing.
For the last half candle-mark or so, they had been supposing the inner contents of a rather large and ostentatiously wrapped package. The bundle in question momentarily rested uneasily in the carriage, bumpy as it was.
The supposed package was atrociously wrapped in chartreuse paper embellished with loud fuzzy polka dots of orange. All this was "complimented" by a ribbon bowtie of sordid mustard; it clashed quite horribly with the bright orange and chartreuse. In fact, the parcel gave off the appearance of a shunned finger-painting; its medium, rotting and regurgitated food. When the package was shaken (not that it had been…of course…) it made a gentle SWOOSHING sound.
"…perhaps then, it's a rare purchase of some sort or another….maybe a gift from some far-flung traveler, cavorting in a distant land." Trox contemplated out-loud, wishfully in his gravely voice.
Enfrox snorted in response, making clear his dissent and disgruntlement of such frivolous notions from his brother's mouth.
"More likely it's some horrendous weapon of destruction meant for the masses; cleverly disguised amongst ridiculous frills and ribbons...far-flung rare purchase my ass!...hrrrrumphft..." Enfrox muttered loudly and rather jadedly as he trudged along; continuing to put one hoof in front of the other in a mechanical method, one without joy.
"Or perhaps, even more likely, wrapped by a Munchkin!" Enfrox neighed laughter at his own joke. Munchkins were well known for their colorful ensembles, which were often…mismatched, to put it kindly.
Trox ignored his bother's comments, or perhaps most likely they sailed clear over his head by a good two mental feet. Whimsical and gullible as he was, Trox hadn't been blessed with the best of brains, whereas Enfrox had a keen mind but was as cantankerous as cat in heat with hot coals shoved up its nostrils. Once, when their mother referred to them as polar opposites, Trox asked her why she was likening them to a Bear.
"I wish sometimes that I weren't a Horse…wouldn't it be nice to not have to…to pull anything! Sometimes I wish I were a Fox! Or an Ass…or even just an ass!" Trox said.
"Believe me," Enfrox quipped, "You arean ass."
Further conversation was heated as they reached The Commons of Shiz. Every third day, when the yellow sun hit its third candle-mark past noon, (save on Lurlday, of course, for it would not do for mail-call to be held on the Ozians' sacred day of rest) mail-call was held. Mail not claimed by present students was then delivered to the student dormitories that were specified in various penmanships on a multifarious assortment of sized and colored envelopes. Trox and Enfrox were both very fervent to see to whom the odd package belonged, and hopefully the revelation of its contents inside.
The Commons consisted of a grassy stretch of knoll-less land with benches for passersby students, forever filled with green foliage; it had been enchanted by Madame Morrible, you see, so it would forever remain rich and vernal; full of life, despite the unpredictability of the capricious weather in Oz.
As they made their way, two bickering Horses pulling a coach paid little, if any, attention whatsoever to their surroundings. Had they done so, or were less deaf, they would had noticed the odd trio following them, along the twisty paths throughout Shiz.
Elphaba, Nessarose, and Boq were an odd-looking group for passersby to behold: a tall slender green girl, clad darkly; a more severe looking, but normal colored girl clacking along in a wheelchair; and a short Munchkin decked out in colorful (but atrocious) duds, almost jogging to compensate for his shorter limbs.
The three were making their way to The Commons for mail call. Elphaba tried to ignore her two companions and observe the scenery: the flaming red and orange leafy trees for which Shiz was famous and aptly named for: Shizanths. Despite her best efforts, she was not completely successful in her endeavor; it was rather difficult indeed, as she was directly behind Nessarose, pushing the chair.
The other two Munchkinlanders were constantly alternating between bickering with one another and trying to gain Elphaba's attention. Yet when they did gain her ear, it was only to shrill in it. Their voices grated on Elphaba and at the moment she genuinely wished that she had mastered a muting spell.
As their bickering continued, Elphaba tuned in as the name Galinda penetrated her hearing.
"…there are other girls than Galinda!" Nessarose said earnestly, with a tiny hint of sarcasm, which was impressive for her.
Boq scowled at this, and explained to Nessa,
"There may be other girls, but Galinda is the essence and epitome of all girls!"
Elphaba smirked and muttered under her break, yet still audibly, "That may be…but you, Master Boq, fall a few inches short of the…epitome of all men."
Boq completely missed the crest-fallen expression on Nessa's face at his last statement; he heard and was distracted by Elphaba's layered slight, which he ignored, save for a dirty look cast her way. Elphaba, however, did not miss her sister's gloomy face and took a mental note, for later.
"She'll eventually come around to my charms!" Boq continued confidently.
Elphaba stopped dead in her tracks, causing Boq to run smack into her while he was lost in the exaltation of his courting skills.
With an incredulous look, she all but laughed at him.
"And you consider stalking to be charmful?"
Nessa stifled a giggle despite herself.
Boq glared up at the green girl; he still hadn't forgiven her for her involvement in the lake-dumping incident.
"I wasn't talking to you, Miss Elphaba. Miss Nessarose and I are conversing."
Nessarose frowned, and uncharacteristically defended her sister, "That was quite rude, Master Boq."
The Munchkin grew quite sullen and was silent as the three approached The Commons.
A small crowd of students had already gathered in anticipation of the carriage. As Elphaba and her companions (ill-suited ones as they were) made their way onto the grass, a Quadling with "funny-looking ears" (as Galinda called them) half-hopped out of the coach. Though his legs were firmly planted on the grass, his upper half rustled inside the package-filled vehicle to locate his list. It created a rather odd visual of a pair of legs, standing, independent of body.
For the sake of the present student body, and her sanity, Elphaba sincerely hoped that Galinda's long awaited package was not listed; she would rather avoid any Boq-caused chaos at mail call, amusing for her as it might be.
Despite Elphaba's discouragement (or rather emphatic orders) to leave things well enough alone, Boq had been stalking Galinda's expected package from her parents, the arrival of which Galinda had entirely given-up hope. But for several weeks now, every third day, Boq had faithfully followed the mail carriage to The Commons, to await the arrival of a package for his Galinda. Perhaps, it was some strange Munchkin custom, but more likely, it was Boq just being…well, Boq-ish.
After all, he had seen Galinda checking religiously for a delivery ever third day, and then every-other third mail-day, until eventually her visits to The Commons had petered off completely. And so, Boq took it upon himself to check for her.
'Shoes, or something…' he thought. 'She's always having shoes delivered, so this just must be a really important pair…an-.'
He paused in mid thought, and then promptly scowled as one of the Horses make a snide comment about Munchkinlander dressing-methodology. He swept it aside; as if were a mere oz-fly. He thought, perhaps, that if he were the one to personally deliver the parcel to Galinda, she would be overwhelmed with his consideration, his charm, and she would fall eagerly into his arms without protest. Boq smiled wishfully at the thought.
The package in question was indeed important to Galinda. More than Boq could possibly fathom. It was carrying the dress from the Vinkus, promised to her months ago by her absent parents. As far as Phannee and ShenShen discerned, Galinda was just eager to don a new dress boasting the latest Vinkus fashion. But then again Pfhannee and Shenshen only knew that which Galinda wanted them to know. And oddly enough, it was Elphaba who suddenly found herself the true confidant to the most popular girl of Shiz. But it wasn't the private confidence that told her this; rather it was the things of which Galinda did not speak.
And so, Elphaba knew better. This dress was a desperately needed reassurance; it symbolized that Galinda's parents remembered and still cared of her existence. And reassurance was something that was crucial to the well being of the newly discovered sorceress.
With the discovery of her magical talents, Galinda was having random power surges more and more frequently. Strong emotion of any kind, whether it be exhilaration or misery, prompted power swells to rise within her. It was as if the emotions themselves were independent agents, spiraling out of control, and acting autonomously of her mind and body.
For one to magically bloom so late…it was rare. For most magical beings, Elphaba included, powers emerged at a young age usually by age seven. Elphaba worried that this pent-up cache of untrained power with no appropriate outlet would be too much and overwhelm her friend. So Elphaba, to her putrid disgust, managed to arrange Galinda's much needed magical training personally with Madame Morrible, but only after some pride-smearing pleading and caveats.
Merely the day before the last, during lunch, Galinda had exploded a sandwich all over Shenshen; the silly girl had made a snide comment about Elphaba's skin oddity. Now had it been on purpose, that would have been a marvelous occurrence, but it hadn't; Galinda's powers were uncontrolled. And it was clear that master guidance was needed, more than Elphaba could offer; Galinda's emotions were provoking magical outbursts over which she had little or no domination. To Galinda, her own skin was a tight enemy; an environment fostering uncontrollable elements and in which it was unsafe to reside. She felt uneased; never knowing what would trigger her powers; her mind now a foreign and unpredictable object.
Elphaba now watched, severely annoyed, as Boq bounced slightly, eagerly awaiting the mail coachman to read off the 'A-name' packages. Much to Elphaba's irritation, Boq's long weeks of waiting were rewarded as the clan name Arduenna was called off the long parchment that curled to the ground.
Boq all but pounced upon Quadling coachman and said too eagerly,
"I'll take that!" Boq, feeling entitled, reached out to take the rather horrific looking parcel from the coachman's hands, but the Quadling coach hand swiftly raised it out of reach (which wasn't very high). Trox and Enfrox, still tethered to the carriage, watched with great interest. Amusedly, with a raised eyebrow, the Quadling said with an accent,
"An' yer name iz Galina', izit now…pritty gerly name fer uh boy…"
Several girls giggled behind Boq, he flushed and Elphaba smirked.
Red-faced Boq said, "No Sir, I'm picking this up for my lady friend!" Boq puffed out his chest.
Elphaba couldn't help but burst-out into a cackle, and several of the students who knew Galinda snickered. Boq shot them all dirty looks as the coachman, trying ever to be the consummate professional, tried rather unsuccessfully not to chortle. With his face twitching in his efforts, the Quadling took a closer look at his long and curling list. After a few short moments he shook his head,
"W'll, seems ta meh that yer lady 'riend iz un'ware that she's-a got uh gent'man 'riend…" The coachman said sarcastically, "…'cuz she didi'not put yoo on-a da list ta picka up eny pack'ge!" The Quadling looked again at his list.
"'…'Owevah, id does say dat uh Miz Elf'ba 'Ropp iz auth'rized fer pick-ip."
Elphaba hid her surprise, but deep down was most pleased. To Boq she shot a shit-eating grin. To the Quadling, she bowed and formally addressed him in Quasi, the language of his people,
"Master Coachman, Elphaba Thropp, Third-Thropp Descending of the Red-House, wishes to stand-in for the Miss Arduenna."
Surprised, but pleased, the tall Quadling inclined his head slightly to acknowledge the strange one who knew his customs. His eyes widened and he bowed as her surname and title brought him heavy connotations, and her skin color identified her as the royal child famously raised by his brother clan.
"Purple River," he indicated towards himself, "Youngest son of the Purple-House is honored to serve Fabala, adopted daughter of his brother clan the Red-House, Third-Thropp Descending, Heir Apparent of Munchkinland."
Elphaba's face gave no hint of her surprise and unease. Not many here at Shiz were aware of her political importance, not even Galinda. But she reasoned that no one could understand them, as long as they spoke in the language of the Quadlings. Boq stood opened-mouthed at the exchange happening, while Nessa merely looked annoyed and tiffed at the fanfare her sibling was receiving.
As the two bowed to one another once more, Boq took advantage of the Quadling's distraction. Boq scowled and darted forward to grab the package. With the coachman caught unaware, Boq impressively managed to snatch it from Purple River's hand. The Munchkin then proceeded to burst out into a full run toward Crage Hall, with an ireful Quadling hot upon his heels. Trox and Enfrox, still harnessed to the carriage, along with the students, watched this change of events with a somewhat gleeful fascination.
Unfortunately for Boq, his shorter legs were not as conducive for running as were the lengthy legs of the Master Coachman, who caught up to the franticly dashing Munchkin as he was running alongside the lakeshore. Next thing Boq knew, he had a muscular Quadling atop of him and they were grappling for the ugly and now slightly smushed package. As fate would have it, for the second time in a short span of weeks, Boq found himself sitting in the lake, this time holding a parcel with a very unhappy Quadling yelling and gesturing angrily at him,
"Look wot oo did! Gonn a'let oo 'splain this ta yer "Gerly'riend"!" The Quadling tromped off back toward his carriage and the other waiting students. And a dismayed Boq, now with very wet pants, sat holding a sodden package, and quite pitifully burst into tears.
Elphaba gently shook off the Quadling's emphatic and apologetic overtures; she left him to finish mail call. Walking toward the lake, she grew angry as the consequence of Boq's actions became apparent. He was sitting forlornly in the shallows of the lake, holding a very wet and very horrible looking package. He looked so dejected and despondent with big tears rolling down his face, that Elphaba took pity on the boy.
She crouched down on the shoreline (careful to avoid the gently lapping water) and without a word reached out her gloved-hand in invitation. Boq sniffed as he handed her the ruined packaged. A quick look inside sure enough indicated that indeed this was the package for which Galinda had so hopefully waited. It now held a very wet, very dirty, and very ruined fashionable Vinkus dress.
Elphaba sighed, package in hand, as she stood-up and began to walk away. Boq called, stuttering out after her,
"Y-you c-couldn't p-p-possibly not me-mention this to Ga-Galinda, c-could you?"
Elphaba inclined her head, indicating that she would, not that is.
"I will, Master Boq, but in exchange, abandon your…quest of her, for a fortnight. Or, consider our terms rendered null."
Boq opened his mouth to protest against the blackmail, thought better of it, shut it, and agreed nodding. And so Elphaba walked away from the Munchkin sitting in the lake, with a sodden package in arm, back to her sister and the dispersing crowd. Mail call, it seemed was over. Elphaba pointedly looked at the package and then to her sister.
"This is the boy who you've set your sights upon!" A gloved hand gestured to the form still struggling to escape from the oozing mud that coated the bottom of the lake.
"For Lurline's sake, Nessa, the boy stalks inanimate objects!"
Nessarose, flushed and eyes flashing, screeched,
"Don't you dare use that pleasure-faither's name! The Un-named God is the true path, and I would never take his name in vain!"
Elphaba was silent. It would be of no use to argue with Nessa. Years of this only proved fruitless and led to unpleasant…talks from her father. And even now, no longer under his reigning hand, habit still kicked in. Nessarose's rant quieted.
"He is…determined." She weakly protested.
Elphaba raised an eyebrow,
"If by determined you mean, obsessive, then yes…determined."
Nessarose pursed her lips, but remained silent, as if it were beneath her to acknowledge Elphaba's comment.
And so, the two sisters made off for Crage Hall, the green one pushing the other. Along the way they passed Boq who was now trying to free a foot from the sucking mud. He swore as his foot suddenly slipped out with a SQWCAUCSH, sans the boot. She saw the glance Nessa bestowed upon the pitiful form.
In her clever head, Elphaba began to craft the beginnings of a plan. All the while, it occurred to her that males pinning over girls, simply ought not be allowed at mail call.
Author's Note: Liberties with Quadling culture have been taken.
I apologize profusely for my delay in updating this story - official I'm putting it on hiatus. I welcome any input as to where you would like to see this story go...perhaps it will break my block. R & R please, I look forward to it.
Until the next update, faithfully Yours,