"Ugh…" Cecelia groaned. Black rings formed under her eyes. Her porcelain cheeks were flushed red. Her breathing was raspy and drawn out.
In one of the rooms of Dark Beauty Castle, Gus and Prescott placed her on one of the beds, covering her up with thick blankets. The black marks on the temples of her head were easily washed off. But the swollen circles would take a while to disappear. Ortensia ran in with a bucket of cold water. Ringing out a rag, Ortensia placed it on Cecelia's forehead. A good sign was Cecelia's shiver. Meaning she was resting instead of being in a comatose state.
"How is she, Ortensia?" Gus asked worriedly.
"Well…" Ortensia placed a hand to Cecelia's face. "She's a little warm." She diagnosed attentively. "You said the Mad Doctor used the Terror Box on her." She hummed pensively. "Then she used a powerful flash of…magic to stop the blotlings?" Prescott and Gus bobbed their heads. Ortensia gaped in amazement, ogling Cecelia in awe. When she saw the red drain from Cecelia's cheeks, a relieved smile beamed. "Don't worry. She's just a little tired. Once Oswald gets back from Ostown with the tea I asked for, she should be fine."
Prescott and Gus let out long held breaths. "Thank goodness." Gus wheezed. "I was worried the Lonesome Manor would have a new resident."
Prescott poked a finger roughly into Gus's nose. "This probably never would have happened had you used the paint cubes!" He scolded, insulted that Gus didn't use his newest creation. "Why didn't you use the paint cubes?" The chomping teeth in his eyes demanded an answer.
Gus laughed nervously, fiddling his fingers with beads of sweat dripping down his face. "Well…you see…uh…" He stammered dumbly, rubbing the back of his head. "I sort of…kind of…unintentionally…" He shrugged his hands with guilt, "Forgot?"
Volcanoes erupted in Prescott's eyes. Steam roared from his ears. Ortensia staggered back, blocking Cecelia from Prescott's fueling rage. "Thank Fairy God Mother you're not awake." Ortensia blessed her.
"YOU FORGOT!" Prescott roared, fire spewing from his mouth. A number of veins broke in his head. "I WORKED HARD ON THOSE CUBES, TESTING AND RETESTING THEM, FOR THREE MONTHS," Prescott clamped his hands to Gus's neck, making the gremlin's head swell, "AND YOU FORGOT?"
"Not…" His head swelled even bigger, "Intentionally…" Prescott shook him violently.
Ortensia laughed timidly, finding Gus's situation beyond hope. "Ugh…" Ortensia's ears twitched up. She turned toward the bed. "Hm…" Cecelia's eyes squeezed tighter together. She shifted under the covers. Prescott stopped shaking Gus for a moment, noticing Cecelia beginning to stir. Gus glanced back as well, hoping they weren't the cause. "Grandpa…" She mumbled dryly. Grandpa?The three thought curiously. "Merlin and Archimedes are arguing again."
"Merlin?" Gus blinked.
"Archimedes?" Prescott chirped.
"Perhaps people she knows?" Ortensia questioned. "People not from Wasteland?"
"Not to state the obvious," Prescott remarked snidely, "But she isn't exactly a Wasteland native." He pointed critically to Cecelia. "It only makes sense the people she mentioned from here either."
"You'd…be…right." The three gawked in surprise. Peeking through one eye, Cecelia smiled weakly to the small crowd.
Gus, Prescott, and Ortensia beamed in relief. "Thank goodness you're alright." Ortensia cheered.
Prescott touched a hand to his chest, sighing with relief. But the moment he realized he was expressing concern, Prescott crossed his arm and turned his back to Cecelia. "Well she wouldn't be this way had GUS used my invention, and she wasn't so reckless!" He berated.
"Prescott, please!" Ortensia scolded the bitter gremlin. Prescott scoffed under his breath. Ortensia rolled her eyes and returned her attention to Cecelia. "How are you feeling?"
"Like someone…dropped a boulder on my head." She tried to laugh. Cecelia speech was hoarse and winded. It was to be expected given her ordeal. But the fact the color was returning to her cheeks and the black rings were almost gone meant she was getting better. "Where am I?"
"You're in Dark Beauty Castle." Gus answered softly. "A sort of headquarters slash alternative place of stay."
"I remember you." Cecelia smiled. "Gus, right?"
"Correct." Gus laughed giddily. "I'm pleased you remember."
"Oh good," Prescott swooned sardonically, clapping his hands together to the side of his face, "The little kitten recalls something."
Cecelia knit her brow sharply. "And you're the jerk, Bishop!" She hissed.
"BISHOP?" Prescott boomed. Ortensia and Gus stifled chuckles. "IT'S PRESCOTT, YOU FORGETFUL FELINE, PRESCOTT!"
Cecelia raised her nose haughtily, "Since I'm…forgetful…" She smriekd brazenly to the fuming gremlin, "You'll have to…remind me to care." Prescott gritted his teeth, infuriated that that outsider had the gawl to speak to him so crudely.
"Anyway…" Ortensia intruded, holding Cecelia's hand gently, "My name is Ortensia. It's nice to meet you."
"You too." Cecelia moved her eyes about the castle room. Most of her memories this were a blur. Seemed to be the main side effect of Wasteland. "How did I get here?"
"Do you mean in Wasteland or in the Castle?" Prescott answered sourly. "Because I can assure you your arrival to Wasteland must have been easier than lugging you here!"
Not wanting to take his insults lying down, Cecelia struggled to her elbows and sat straight up. Ortensia rushed behind her in case she fell back. Cecelia, obviously weak and with sweat beading down her brow, glared Prescott down, showing she wasn't a pushover. "Are you this kind to all of your visitors? Or only those that aren't that are too weak to punch you?"
"Let's just say I don't appreciate outsiders thinking they can just waltz into our world whenever they please!" Outsiders?Cecelia thought, caught off guard by the retort. Was someone else here before me?He narrowed his eyes challengingly to Cecelia. "And believe me, child, it wouldn't matter if you were in bed or not!" He forewarned ominously. "That little flashof yours isn't enough to scare me!"
Cecelia's face glowered darkly. "Prescott!" Gus roared. "That is enough! There's no call for your rudeness!" Cecelia slid off the bed, squaring off to the offensive gremlin. "No, Cecelia!" Gus implored her. "You shouldn't move!" The cat girl's body trembled visibly. But – judging from her grudging expression – to say stubbornness was keeping Cecelia aloft wasn't too farfetched. Gus and Ortensia moved to support her.
"Who says I can only flash?" Cecelia's ears erected straight up. Streams of electricity conducted between them. Ortensia and Gus flinched back. "I can electrify as well!" The charge made her hair hover. Prescott backed away, gaping in fear but amazement. "Now tell me, Prescott," She clenched her fists, "Are you scared now?" A sharp pinch struck Cecelia's mind. She winced in pain. The electricity died down. "Uh…" She groaned, wobbling dizzily. "I take back what I said." Cecelia collapsed to the floor. Gus and Ortensia rushed to her side, worried she may have damaged herself further. "I couldn't light a light bulb."
"Not too sound ignorant," Gus responded cautiously, "But what you did…is that really magic?"
"Yeah." Cecelia answered exhaustedly. "I'm what most people refer to as a sorceress."
"Intriguing." Gus studied her.
"Not really." Cecelia corrected him bashfully. "I'm a novice at best." She hung her head tiredly. "But with the shape I'm in, I couldn't threaten a bunny."
"Then I'm almost glad I showed up." All eyes looked to the door. Cecelia arched a perplexed brow. A rabbit entered the door with a black bag. "Hi Ortensia." He waved. "Sorry if I took so long. I found something that caught my interest."
"You're actually right on time, Oswald." Ortensia congratulated.
"Oswald?" The name rolled off Cecelia's tongue. "The Lucky Rabbit?"
Oswald placed a proud fist to his chest. "Yep! That's me!"
"Oh wow!" Cecelia beamed. "I've heard about you!" She extended a hand out. "It's nice to meet you! I'm Cecelia."
Oswald set the bag down and shook her hand. "Nice to meet ya, Cecelia." Prescott rolled his eyes.
"So, Oswald, what did you find?" Gus asked animatedly.
"Oh yeah!" Oswald dug through the bag. "First there's this!" He held out a little book. "It hit Goofy in the head."
"Hey…" Cecelia reached out for the book. "That's my spell book." She pointed to the engraving C.Y. "Those are my initials."
"Well then," Oswald happily handed it over, "Here ya go."
"Thank you." She hugged it close.
"And then there's this!" Oswald displayed the brush happily. Cecelia gaped in shock. "I found Mickey's brush!" Mickey? His brush?
"THAT'S GREAT!" Ortensia cheered. "That must mean Mickey's here somewhere!"
"Great," Prescott rolled his eyes, "Just what we need. Another outsider." Gus laughed dismally, giving up on Prescott and his sour mood.
"Um…" Cecelia raised her hand, gaining everyone's attention, "I hate to spoil the mood," She pointed sheepishly to the brush, "But that brush belongs to my grandfather."
Prescott's curiosity was piqued. Gus and Ortensia gazed confusedly at the red eyed girl. Oswald arched a defensive yet curious brow. "What do you mean?" Oswald asked grizzly.
"That's the brush I was using before the Blot dragged me down here." She explained, believing they deserved a good explanation. "However…" She scratched the side of her head. Her cheeks puffed angrily as she pouted, "That wasn't until after that weird tail hand of the blot broke my paint bottle."
"Hold up," Oswald stopped her there, "How does that work?" He questioned skeptically. "The Blot's tail hand? He has legs."
"Not when I saw him." She flexed her hand. "When I saw him he had an arm and a hand for a tail."
Ortensia and Prescott tilted their heads to the side. Question marks could be seen hovering over their heads. "Perhaps you should start from the beginning." Gus suggested. Cecelia laughed at herself, thinking that was for the best.
Cecelia began by explaining she was up late in her grandfather's workshop when she saw Wasteland on the table. Curious of the world, Cecelia used the brush and painted it in. But when she went to paint in…Tomorrow City?...her brush couldn't reach it. Something was repelling it. Probably the shield the Mad Doctor whined about.
Gus confirmed her suspicions. The Mad Doctor built a force field around the Space Voyage area of Tomorrow City. It uses a little paint to power itself up.
Cecelia then went on to explain that she became irritated and poured a bottle of paint onto the City. There was a lot of electricity, and then an ink stream travel into the bottle and shattered it. After that an ink worm wriggled around, then jumped back into the world. Cecelia decided to leave the paint where it was. A scolding from her grandfather was worth the sleep she needed. But when she turned around, there was thinner and paint on the table. She wasn't sure how it got there. But the worm began to absorb it all, including the sponge, turning into that hand tail she saw the Blot have.
Gus concluded the Blot injured himself. Because he was resurrected, the Blot wasn't strong enough to resist the effects of paint or thinner. The paint must have wounded him, taking away his feet and legs.
The hand tail then grabbed Cecelia, dragging her to Wasteland. Yensid tried to save her, but the Blot hurt him and she got dragged into Wasteland. The next thing she knew, she was attached to some machine, escaped, then ran into Gus and Prescott.
"That's how we get to this point." Gus concluded.
"So mickey never came with you?" Oswald pressed, hoping her answer would change.
"I don't even know who that is." Cecelia admitted sadly. "But I promise you, Oswald, I was the only one who came here."
"Are you sure?" He quizzed sternly. "Because the last time he was here, Mickey used this brush to save us." The brush glimmered with a certain energy. "This brush never went anywhere without him."
"Last time he…was here? But who…" Cecelia trailed off, finding the story familiar. "THE MISCHEIVOUS MOUSE!" She blurted, startling everyone. "Grandpa told me about him!" She elucidated, exciting Oswald. "He told me that a mouse entered his workshop and found his way here!" She eyed the brush in wonder. "He must have brought the brush with him!"
"Brought it, used it, and fought bravely with it." Gus mentioned, honored he was able to bear witness. "Oswald and I traveled with him."
Oswald blushed bashfully. "I wouldn't say I traveled with him." For most of the journey, Oswald ignored Mickey and gave him a hard time. "But Mickey saved our forgotten hides." He sighed sadly, "I was hoping he could do it again. We could use his help."
Cecelia's ears drooped sadly. "I'm sorry. But..." She trailed off, thinking on what Yensid told her, "If what Grandpa told me was true, then in order to come to Wasteland Mickey would have to get to the workshop through the mirror." She shrugged her hands, "But that mirror has such a mind of its own, it could take ten years before it decides to lure Mickey in again."
"Are you sure?" Prescott asked skeptically. "How do you come to this conclusion?"
"My grandpa's never been able to figure out if the mirror's mischievous or malicious." She shrugged her shoulders. "But what we have learned if that it likes to cause trouble."
Oswald grabbed his ears and twisted them under his chin in frustration. "WE DON'T HAVE TEN YEARS!" He boomed. "WE DON'T EVEN HAVE TEN MINUTES!" Oswald collapsed sadly to his butt. "Mickey's the only one who REALLY knows how to use the brush. Without him, we may not have a chance."
Looking around, Cecelia could see the desperation and sadness in the Toons' eyes. This…Mickey Mouse was important to them. A beckon of hope. Cecelia almost felt guilty about arriving without him. Regardless if she knew him or not. But if Mickey was a friend and travel companion, he needed to be brought here. Especially if he can help.
"Hmm…" Cecelia hummed pensively. Opening her spell book, Cecelia fervently searched the extensive table of contents.
"What are you doing?" Ortensia asked.
"Looking for a way to bring Mickey here."
"WHAT?" Oswald blurted, dropping to his knees to her. "You can do that?" He asked hopefully.
"Maybe." She answered skeptically, not wanting him to get his hopes up. "I'm only a novice…" He skimming finger slowed, "But if Mickey got to my grandfather's workshop through that tricky mirror, we may be able to do the same."
"Tricky mirror?" Prescott questioned.
"There's a mirror my grandfather has that literally has a mind of its own. Mickey must have gotten to the workshop through it."
"How?" Ortensia asked.
"I don't know. The mirror was either being funny or knew he was needed. Not even grandpa knows how it works."
Prescott moved Oswald aside and glowered sourly. "Then how does any of this dribble help us?"
Cecelia plastered a hand to his face. "If you'd allow me to continue, perhaps you'll find OUT!" She snapped, shoving him back. Prescott sputtered angrily. "Here!" Her finger prodded a content direction. She skipped ahead ten pages. "Seek and Deliver." The name of the category. "If I'm reading this correctly," She borrowed the brush from Oswald, "All we need to do in order to get Mickey here is create the same gateway the mirror did."
"How do we do that?" Gus asked, getting excited.
"The brush." Cecelia answered confidently. She climbed to her feet, becoming lightheaded as she rose. Ortensia and Gus grabbed her by the arms, helping her to her feet. Cecelia giggled. "Do you guys have a huge mirror somewhere?"
"Yeah." Oswald pointed out the door. "The Castle Parlor."
"Take me there."
The Mad Doctor and The Blot entered into Tomorrow City Square. Petetronic came stumbling after them. The Mad Doctor turned around and pressed button on a remote. Rapid incessant beeps alerted from Petetronic's back. The containers on his back, filled with thinner suddenly shattered, melting Petetronic's body into a puddle. On his head remained solid.
"HEY!" He struggled to pull himself back together. "C'MON YOU GUYS!" He pleaded. "YOU CAN'T JUST LEAVE ME LIKE DIS!"
"We won't!" The Mad Doctor assured his sarcastically. "I'm sure the spatters with make quick work of you."
"WAIT!" Petetronic looked around frantically, preying no spatters were around. "YOU CAN'T DO DIS TO ME! I HAVE RIGHTS!"
"So what is this contingency plan of yours?" The Blot asked impatiently, ignoring Petetronic in the background.
"Rule one of Science, my Blotty friend." The Mad Doctor boasted. "Always have a backup." He produced the broken Terror Box deivce. "That little girl may have broken this one," His grinned widened, sharpening his mustache, "But I have an even better one awaiting us in my lab."
"Impressive." The Blot remarked halfheartedly.
"Plus we will need to make another side trip."
"To Mickey Junk Mountain." The Mad Doctor glared to the night sky of Tomorrow City. "I have no doubt in my mind those idiot Toons are plotting against me as we speak. Most likely they are trying to get that ridiculous brush wielding mouse here to help them again."
"Yes…" The Blot hissed. "I know of whom you speak." The Blot touched his stomach. "I can still feel that rodent rummaging around through me!" He growled vengefully. "And with that child with them, they pose a threat."
"What? That little girl with the cute ears? PEH!" The Mad Doctor spat to the ground. "That little girl is more of hindrance than square wheels."
"Yet she broke your device."
"A technical error." The Mad Doctor continued to deny. "For now, that girl is an innocuous nuance." The Blot furrowed his green eyes, not so sure of the Mad Doctor's bravado. "Now let us get to the lab." The Doctor pulled a sponge out from his lab coat. "There is something I wish to try."
The Mad Doctor could tinker with his little toys all he wished. The Blot needed to be cautious, up to date on what his enemies were doing. If the Rabbit and his friends intend to summon the mouse, the Blot needed to do whatever he could to put a halt to that plan. But where would the Rabbit and his friends go to bring their ally to this world.
The Castle Parlor was a cozy room. Not too big or too small. Pictures of Oswald and Ortensia in different seasonal wear hung on the wall, giving the room a certain romantic flare. The fireplace brought the space together. And with it ignited the room was warm.
"Will that mirror work?" Gus pointed to the mirror above the mantle.
"That's perfect!" Cecelia beamed. Darting for the coffee table, she dragged a chair to the mantle. Climbing to the mirror, Cecelia prodded it. "This will work perfectly." Her tail wagged. "Oswald, you told me you saw Mickey through a small window right?"
"Yeah. Right after our fight with the Blot, he just appeared in in a weird window and then disappeared."
"Okay…" Cecelia stroked the brush, straightening the bristles. Prescott and Oswald gawked, tilting her head in confusion. Gus had to admit he was confused.
"I wrote the note you asked for." Ortensia announced, showing the small piece of paper.
"Great." Cecelia folded the paper and tied it to the brush.
"How does this work again?"
"My grandpa taught me this." She explained elatedly. "When bringing one to from one plane to the next, its important that they have a link with this place or you have something of theirs to lead them back." The four bobbed their heads. "Thanks to the link Mickey has with this place, and because of that window Oswald mentioned, part of Mickey is still here."
"That makes sense." Prescott agreed snidely. "But how does the brush help?"
"If Oswald follows the instructions I gave, the brush will get Mickey."
The four gaped in doubt, "IT WILL?"
"Yep." Cecelia confidence slowly began to dwindle. "But I haven't performed this before." She laughed nervously. "This will be my first time."
"Oh well," Prescott shrugged his hands, "Much help you are!"
"GRR!" Lightning conducted between Cecelia's ears. A stream shot out and struck Prescott in the goggles on his head.
"YOUCH!" His body lit up like a lightning rod. Smoke emanated from his charred body. "GRR!" Prescott grabbed a paint cube from Gus and threw it at her.
"AH!" Cecelia threw up her hands. The cube exploded, covering Cecelia in paint. "EW! GRR!" Prescott and Cecelia clashed foreheads, boring their glares into the other's head. Prescott kept another cube in his hand while Cecelia conducted more static.
"You're pressing your luck, WITCH!" Prescott warned her.
"Sorceress! And your luck's run out with me, NERD!" They shoved their heads closer, engaging in a grudge match.
White gloved hands slid between the colliding foreheads. "EE-NOUGH!" Gus roared, splitting them apart. The two still tried to butt heads. "Do we need to separate you two? Or can you put this little rivalry aside for the greater good? LIKE SAVING OUR HOME!"
"Uh…" Cecelia and Prescott groaned guiltily, looking to the ground in shame. Huffing grumpily, the two folded their arms and turned their backs, pouting childishly.
Gus raised his hands, believing the crisis averted. "Now both of you shake hands and call a truce. Alright?" Cecelia and Prescott peered through glares, growling in the back of their throats. Reluctantly they shook hands. "Lovely. Now can we get back to the spell?"
"Fine." Cecelia rumbled. Taking the brush in her hand, Cecelia touched three points on the brush. The handle tip, the middle, and the tip of the bristles. "Okay." She breathed. She brought the brush in close. "Who's the wielder of the brush that's friends to all you see?" She sang, prodding the three points in rhythm of the song. "Oswald." She held the brush towards him.
Oswald swallowed nervously dreading his part. Gulping down his pride, he squeezed his eyes closed and grudgingly said, "M-I-C…K-E-Y…M-O-U-S-E!" The brush began to glow bright gold. Ortensia giggled, clapping and cheering for Oswald. His entire face turned red.
Cecelia handed the brush to Gus and pointed to the corners and sides of the mirror. He nodded in understanding. "Hey there, hi there, ho there – you're as welcome as can be." Gus poked the edges of the mirror in sync with the song. Cecelia pointed to Oswald who wanted to tie his ears around his neck.
"M-I-C…"Gus spelt the letters out on the mirror. "K-E-Y…" The gold glowed on the glass. "M-O-U-S-E! MICKEY MOUSE!" He blurted. Gus poked the center of the mirror. The brush floated from his hands, spinning slowly like a wheel. Images of Mickey's many years as a cartoon icon cycled through the glass. Cecelia and the other toons watched in awe and wonder at the film reels of his success. The brush inched away from the mirror, aimed towards it, and shot through, making the mirror ripple like a disrupted puddle.
"Now what?" Oswald asked anxiously.
"Now…" Cecelia sat in the chair, watching the mirror in anticipation, "We wait." BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!"What?" Cecelia jumped. The two Gremlins glanced to the door. Oswald jumped in front of Ortensia, not liking those knocks.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!The pounding came at the wooden door again, louder and harder. Cecelia and Ortensia retreated into a corner, protected by Gus, Oswald, and Prescott. BOOM! BOOM…Everyone froze, waiting for the last boom. When it didn't come, the five wondered if the mysterious guest had left. BOOM!The door flew off its hinges, falling to the floor. A slobber stood in the door way, laughing maliciously.
"Isn't that…" Cecelia trailed off.
"A slobber!" Oswald hissed, pulling his remote from his pocket. "How'd that get in here?"
"Why is it even here?" Ortensia asked.
"The Mad Doctor must have figured out what we're up to!" Gus howled. Appearing fomr behind the Slobber were two Blotlings with paint cans filled with thinner. "SWEEPERS! Careful! They throw thinner!"
The three Blotlings entered into the parlor, closing the five into a corner. Oswald and Prescott aimed their remotes, prepared to fight them back. Gus looked after Cecelia and Ortensia. Cecelia growled, feeling their hard work being all for nothing. That's when she noticed the Slobber looking at the mirror. When she followed his gaze, she saw he was fascinated by the twinkling. If Gus was right, and the Mad Doctor knew they were trying to summon Mickey…
"KEEP THEM AWAY FROMM THE MIRROR!" She commanded. "IF IT BREAKS…MICKEY MAY NEVER GET HERE!"
"Never as in..." Oswald trailed off grimly.
"We'll have to hope my grandfather's mirror decides to lure Mickey in again."
To be continued. Next chapter – if I'm not interrupted – should be up sometime today