Chapter I

Hooo, hoo, hoo!

Dorothy whistled a little tune, as she merrily skipped down the Yellow Brick Road. She was happy today. Today was going to be a great day. She just knew it, she felt it. She swung her wicker basket at her side, right with the beat. She began to twirl and the silver of her slippers shone even brighter than before. She smiled, and continued walking.

The sun shone down on her and seemed to agree with her good mood. The trees waved in the wind, a pleasant breeze, that barely ruffled her blue and white checkered dress. She smiled fondly. She had picked this dress, especially for him. It was his favorite of hers. The first thing he had seen her in.

She remembered the day as vividly as yesterday. Panicking, as she was close to her goal. To focused on what seemed to be the greater good, to see what the real good was, right in front of her. Though she had briskly shrugged him off, he still had a beaming smile on him. That perfect smile...

She looked up ahead and saw the Tower in front of her, encircled in the same green material it was made of, and of the lightest hue of the trees. It sparkled, and looked pristine in the clearing it was planted in. It rose and touched the highest points of the sky. It was odd, how something so beautiful, could hold something so dark. But the real beauty was the person next to it.

He was standing next to the emerald gates, turning his head every few seconds, swishing his chestnut hair along his forehead. The brown eyes scanned everything eagerly and keenly, as though he were waiting for someone. He wore an army suit of green, bright and chipper, with a brown rifle slung across his back.

Her heart's pace quickened, and she could feel her face becoming hotter than the perfectly warm day. Oh, crud, was she blushing? She hoped not. Was there something on her face? Was she sweating? Oh no, oh no, oh no. She was making it totally obvious... and embarrassing.

He looked over and saw her. He started smiling that perfect smile, and began waving. She flashed a smile back, and quickly ran to him. She held up the basket, and caught her breath before speaking.

"I've brought lunch!" she spoke enthusiastically. Or was it too enthusiastically? Was she overdoing it?

He took the basket from her hands, and put one of his hands into hers. Her heart fluttered. His hands were so soft.

"Shall we eat?" he asked in a chipper tone.

Dorothy nodded, and was pulled to a quiet, tranquil, and not to mention beautiful, place among the trees. He sat her down on a gray rock, placing himself across from her. He opened the basket, and took the red blanket out, placing it on the cold grass. He then sat cross-legged, and waited for Dorothy to sit beside him.

"Thanks for bringing my lunch!" he thanked Dorothy, as he began to dig in to a sandwich. Dorothy gingerly took one from the basket, and meekly nodded at him. That's all what it was. A thanks. Nothing else. Excluding lunch of course. She sighed, and looked away from him. It wasn't entirely his fault, though. He wasn't to know this was supposed to be a romantic picnic. In fact, in his mind, it was just... lunch. Because that's what Dorothy had asked him. If she could make lunch for him. And nothing else.

The rest of the picnic was spent in silence. All attention (seemingly) was on the Emerald Tower. From where they were, they had a perfect view of its picturesque beauty and allure. When both had finished their sandwiches, Quince folded the blanket and put it in the basket. They walked mutely to the gates, and their he handed the basket to Dorothy.

"Again, thanks for the lunch Dorothy!"

Dorothy looked down. For some reason, those words stung her. She didn't want those words. She wanted words that really mattered. Something she would remember forever, something her heart would remember forever.

She thrust the basket back into Quince's arms. His expression became confused, but Dorothy just turned away and began running.

She didn't care where. All that mattered was to get away. Bitter tears began to swell in her eyes, and creep down her face. They fell from her cheeks and hit her shoes, dulling their once bright sparkle. She stopped running and fell to the ground, and began to sob. Why? Why did it hurt so much?

Why can't you see I love you?

After a few moments of releasing the tears of a sorrow that had been building up for so much time, she looked around her. Where was she? As she kept looking, she glanced to the right and saw the Tower, its sparkle gone, by the afternoon sun. She began to walk towards it. Once she was there, she could find her way back home.

As she passed through the gates, she saw no sign of Quince. Not that she wanted to see him now. It just might hurt more. She came closer and closer to the Tower, again remarking at its size. She looked at what seemed to be the gigantic doorway to the interior of the Tower. She had remembered these doors. She had been in this tower before. If she was right, then that one thing should be... There!

She found herself placing a hand over a carved flower symbol in the gem, inlaid with gold. The lines all overlapped each other making itself an intricate set of lines. Frederick had called it a charm.

"A charm? A charm for what?" she remembered herself saying.

"It's a protective charm," replied Frederick. "It's supposed to keep things in."

"'In?' But wouldn't it be better to keep things out?"

Frederick grew pale.

"...Sometimes, the evil does not come from the outside, but grows from the inside..."

Dorothy still remembered those eerie words as she looked at the charm. What had he meant by that? The evil from within...

She was stunned by the charm's beauty. It was odd, how something so seemingly... innocent, could be so potent. She kept looking at the gold, hypnotized by the shine. It was pulling her in, coming ever so closely. Pulling... pulling... pulling... Wait! Something was actually pulling at her dress!

She looked down and saw that the doors had opened and several inky black arms with cruel claws were pulling at her dress. She struggled, batting at them with her hand. They were cold, and her hand passed entirely through them. She gasped, and then the arms gave a gigantic pull, making her land on her bottom. She turned, fighting for the light that was quickly slipping from her vision.

"Help! Help me! Somebody! Anybody! They've got me! They've got me!" she shrieked. She was now passing through the doorway. Her arms shot from her sides, clinging to the doors sides. But they were slipping, as they had become sweaty with her impending fear.


As only two fingers were soon holding the doorway, Quince came into view, sprinting at an almost inhuman pace.

He stopped in front of Dorothy and held out his hand. She quickly let go of the door, and reached for Quince's hand. Quince gritted his teeth, and began to pull with all of his might, but to no avail, as he was too beginning to slip into the darkness.

"Use your other hand!" Dorothy yelled, desperately.

Quince grunted, "Sorry, no can do."

Dorothy looked to see in the palm of his hand, was the picnic basket. Her fear was soon replaced with anger.

"Well drop the basket, you dope!" she angrily shouted.

Quince just smiled. "It's rude to reject gifts that have been given to you."

Before Dorothy could reply, the oily arms gave a tremendous pull, leading Dorothy and Quince into the darkness.

Utter black.

Utter doom.