“We’re off to see The Wizard—“ Griff croons once we step back onto the cobblestone street and head toward the cathedral.
“Shut up!” I cut him off.
“What?” he replies innocently.
“You know what.”
“Come on, this is textbook Oz, if there is a textbook on Oz. Actually, you would know. Is there a textbook on Oz?”
“You’re an idiot.”
“Alright, well, if you’re the smart one, what do you think we’re going to get out of trying to visit this wizard guy? Shouldn’t we find a scarecrow or a lion or something first?”
“If you’re right and he’s pulling this scam straight from The Wizard of Oz, doesn’t it stand to reason that he’s also not from around here and that he might just happen to hold the key to getting us back to our time?”
“That’s assuming we’re actually in some other time and not just in the midst of a very convincing Renaissance Faire.”
“Really?” I ask, stopping in the street. “Are you really going to say you still don’t believe all this?”
“I’m just saying it’s all pretty damned incredible, this idea that we were whisked away to a different time and place just by pushing a button on that damned necklace of yours. And it’s pretty damned convenient that we can’t just push the button again to go home.”
“You got any better ideas on where we are?”
“Maybe we’re dreaming because we got knocked out by a mugger or something. You were holding onto a large amount of cash right before we ended up here.”
“And outside of that?”
“Then, no. I don’t have any better ideas.”
“Good, so then can we go see The Wizard and find out if he knows how to get us home?”
“Sure, as long as you answer me one question first. This is the guy who runs the place, right? Why would he even want to stop and talk to us?”
“I don’t know. Wouldn’t he?”
“If I see another con man working off on the other side of the street, I don’t usually go out of my way to shake his hand. I usually do everything I can to avoid him. It’s all part of the game, kid.”
“But this is different, isn’t it?”
“The guy’s got a whole city under his gaffle. I can’t imagine he’s going to be too willing to do anything which might hurt the scheme.”
“Well, I think you’re wrong.” I raise my head and walk away.
Once we approach the cathedral, I see the man from earlier is still in a lump on the steps. I cringe, realizing how this man had actually died at the hands of the horrible Wizard, instead of it all being some show for our amusement.
I also cringe at the realization that he still hasn’t been moved. I know Medieval England wasn’t known for its sanitary measures, but you’d think someone would have done something by now, at the very least out of respect for the dead. Not that I have any intentions of doing anything about it myself. Griff, ever the realist, kicks the man onto his back to get a better look.
“Seem odd to you?” Griff asks.
“That they haven’t moved him?” I ask. “Gross maybe, but not weird, I guess. Everyone seems pretty afraid of this cathedral. They probably don’t want to get too close to it if they don’t have to.”
“No, I get that, I mean that there’s no sign of injury.”
“How did he die? I had just assumed it was supposed to be by magic back when we thought this was all for show, but now that this is supposed to be real, how’d The Wizard kill him?”
“Poison?” I shrug.
“It’d have to be some mighty fine poison to work like that one did. This Wizard fella might be a tad more powerful than I thought.”
“Maybe,” I reply. “I mean, if he’s a time traveler, he could definitely go on to the future and get some awesome tech.”
“Yeah, maybe.” Griff shrugs and steps away from the body. “But then couldn’t he use something cooler for his show than simple fireworks?”
He steps to the cathedral doors and pulls on them. They don’t move.
“Come on, Griff,” I smile. “You didn’t really think it would be that easy to get in there, did you?”
“Well, this is a house of God, isn’t it? Aren’t they supposed to always be open?”
“Not if they’ve got a megalomaniac inside wanting to keep you from seeing what he’s up to.”
“Well, are you gonna knock or what?” Griff asks impatiently.
“Yeah,” I answer quickly. “Just building up the nerve.” I grab the large crucifix-shaped door knocker and slam it against the wooden door as hard as I can. The sound echoes throughout the interior of the building.
A loud thunk sounds from within and an old frail-looking man sticks his head out of a hole in the door above our heads.
“Go away!” the man wheezes.
“Please, sir. We’d like to see The Wizard, if we could,” I ask, using my more demure-sounding affectation.
“No one gets in to see The Wizard,” the man says firmly. “Go away!” And with that, he slams the miniature door shut and disappears.
Griff giggles behind me. “Not no way, not no how.”
“Oh, shut up!” I harrumph. “I get it already, okay? Maybe you could be helpful and come up with a way to convince them to let us in.”
“Tell him you’re Dorothy,” Griff shrugs.
“Oh, come on already. Couldn’t you be even the slightest bit helpful?”
“I’m serious. If you think he’d be willing to see us just because we’re from a different time, like him, then the best thing we can do is prove to him we’re not from around here. One way is to show him you know about a movie that won’t be made for thousands of years.”
“That actually makes sense,” I nod.
“Of course it does. Who do you think taught you everything you know?”
“No clue,” I snort before raising the door knocker once again.
Once again the small door opens and the man’s head appears. “I said, go away!”
“But, sir. I’m Dorothy.”
The man stops briefly before closing the door to look down at us. A sense of recognition washes over him for a short second before his face again turns south.
“Good for you, now go away!” he says, before again shutting the door behind him.
“Any other bright ideas?” I ask, looking to Griff with a frown.
“Give it a second,” he reassures me. “Even in the movie it took a second, didn’t it?”
“I don’t know. Obviously you haven’t trained me enough in the ways of classic movies like a good con master.”
“Obviously you’re right.” He puts his finger to his chin and looks up. “If I’m right, I’d guess he’s checking us out as we speak. That means in about thirty—“
A louder thunk sounds from behind the door and a grating creaking noise accompanies movement of the enormous wooden entrance. It is pulled open slowly by the small old man. This seemingly impossible task might possibly kill him if he continues on it any longer. I jump to assist him in getting it open enough for me and Griff to squeeze through.
“The Wizard will see you now,” he says through labored breath. He gestures for us to enter.
“Thank you,” I say softly. Griff nods his head at the man, who replies in kind.
I look down the hall ahead of us and notice how the building seems to reach on forever in repeated patterns of archways that are probably called flying buttresses or something. I took that art appreciation class last year, but flying buttresses seem to be the only phrase I remember from the section on Gothic architecture.
The windows are covered in stained glass beauties, telling stories of kings and gods. And the stonework throughout the entirety of this cavernous interior is like nothing I have ever seen before. Quite simply, it’s gorgeous. So gorgeous, in fact, that I forget I’m here with anyone else.
I’m rudely awakened by Griff, who elbows me in the rib to ask, “How far in do you think we have to go before we see the giant head?”
The door slams loudly behind us and I jump in surprise.
“Dorothy, eh?” comes an elegant voice from ahead of us. A figure appears at the break in the corridor whom I quickly recognize as The Wizard we had seen only hours earlier. “Now that’s a rather unique name.”
Griff walks briskly toward the man. “Hey, pal. I just wanted to take a moment to let you know just how brilliantly I think—“
“Silence, fool,” The Wizard says quietly, but firmly. Griff, oddly enough, complies. “I do not care to hear from you. My interest is purely in the girl.”
“Me?” I ask timidly. “Why?”
“My dear, sweet, darling,” The Wizard says. Now that we’re in close proximity to each other, I can’t help but notice how his beard is a fake. The clothing looks like it might have been purchased at a cheap costume shop the night before Halloween. “How could I not wish to share your presence?”
He is at my side now and places his hand beneath my chin to raise my face so I am forced to look at him. A sickly smell of something rotten emanates from his warm breath, hitting my face while he inspects me. I’m uncertain how to respond, but decide it’s best to see where this is going, no matter how disgusting I feel.
Griff, however, is not so patient. “Get your hands off her, pal.” He runs to my side and pushes the man away from me.
The Wizard’s face changes from one of pleasant interest to intense spite as he turns his gaze upon my partner. “You dare place a hand on me?” he scowls through clenched teeth.
“I most definitely do dare.” Griff brings his fists in front of his face. “And I dare to do a whole lot more if you don’t keep your hands away from my friend.”
“Your friend,” The Wizard muses. “So, this is not your mistress?”
Griff and I laugh in unison at the idea.
“I do not see what is so amusing.”
“Of course you wouldn’t,” Griff says, dropping his hands to his side. “Look, pal, we’re just hoping you might be able to help us out. You see, we’re, um, travelers, like you, you know? The thing is, our, um, horse and buggy or whatever, seems to have broken down and we don’t know how to get back home. Since it seems like you’re from the same place, we thought you might be able to help us out.”
“You come to me for a way to return home?”
“Yeah, Mr. Oz. And we’re fresh out of ruby slippers, if you catch my drift.”
“Oz? I am The Wizard of Avalon!”
“Right,” Griff corrects himself, “Avalon, sorry.”
“You should speak with reverence when talking to the ruler of your land,” the frail man cuts in.
“You see,” Griff says with a frustrated sigh, “that’s the thing. This isn’t our land. We’re quite a long way away from our land and really want to find our way back there. We were told you were all sorts of powerful and that you might be able to help. Of course, if you don’t think you have the power needed to get us there, perhaps we’ve come to the wrong wizard.”
“You are tempting my patience, fool.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” I apologize. “My friend here gets kind of nervous when he’s around such important people as yourself. Surely you can find it in your heart to forgive him.”
The Wizard returns his attention to me and the rage fades from his eyes. He places his hand against my chin. “Of course, dear. I will allow him this one opportunity, since you wish it to be so. However, should he step out of line again, I shall not hesitate to end his pitiful existence.”
Griff looks like he’s about to open his mouth yet again. I shoot him a warning glare.
“That’s so very much appreciated, my lord.”
“So my lady,” The Wizard says while we walk deeper into the dark building, “please, tell me to what do I owe this pleasure.”
I hesitantly allow myself to be brought along to wherever this monster intends to bring me, telling Griff with my eyes that he should make sure to stay close. I’m not sure if he was able to directly translate my wild eyebrow flailing, but he stays close behind us all the same.
“Well, my lord, as my friend had stated, we are somewhat lost and looking for help in finding our way home. ”
“Ah, yes. Whoever gave you such information is indeed wise. If there is anyone who has the power to do anything, it would be me. However, I’m certain you can imagine, a man of my power very rarely gets involved in matters of transport.”
“Oh, I’m sure, sire,” I say, stopping in place at the break in the corridor to keep from turning off down the darker corridor he had entered from. “But, you see, the manner in which we made our way here is something of a mystery. We think it might have something to do with this.” I pull the pendant away from its resting place on my chest and show it to him.
“I had noticed your prize,” he smiles and reaches within his own cloak, pulling out a spherical pendant which looks incredibly similar to the one in my own hands.
“The Reprobian Sphere!” I gasp.
“You know its name.” His smile grows weaker. “Perhaps I should not have been so quick to trust the two of you.”
“There’s more than one of those things?” Griff says in surprise. The Wizard looks at him sternly before returning his attention to me.
“I cannot see how there can be more than one of this device, considering how it was created,” he says somberly. “And if that’s correct,” his voice rises, “that can mean only one thing. You must have stolen it from me.”
“No,” I say, recognizing the anger growing within him, “I swear. We got it from an antique shop way way in the future. We—“
“Wyllt,” The Wizard yells at the ancient man who is only a few feet away. “Please restrain these two and place them within the guest room!”
Wyllt appears at our side immediately. For a small old man who had trouble with a simple door, he doesn’t seem to have any difficulty in overpowering the two of us and dragging us deeper into the cathedral.
The Wizard’s voice echoes through the long corridor as he cackles happily. “The prophecy is broken!”
Go to Chapter Twelve