The lights dim.
The curtain lifts.
You are a member of the audience now.
About to witness a fantastical tale of magic, friendship, hatred, secrets, injustices and love. Grasp your pointy black hat, click the heels of your red shoes, hop on your broom, sing your favorite song and hang onto a monkey's wing… It's about to get Wicked.
No matter human or troll, wizard or witch, lusus or ancestor, keep in mind... it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside. A notion once thought to be completely true may turn out to have been deceiving all along. The most wicked member of society may be the one most deserving of our praise.
Things aren't always what they seem.
Wickedstuck: Begin ===+
"Good news!" A chorus of voices rang throughout the Lands of Oz. The noise started with a rumble and rushed over the hills, spreading far and wide. All over, repeated first through hushed whispers, as if the ones hearing it didn't dare believe it were true. Then louder, surer, more joyous with every new member added to the buzzing crowd. Trolls and humans alike rushed from their houses to the streets full of figures laughing and embracing. Goodness had triumphed! From human to human to troll to troll to human and back echoed the same announcement: "He's DEAD!"
"The Knight of Blood is dead!" The people rushed around, hurrying and shouting and hoping. Some laughed; a few had tears of happiness in their eyes. Complete strangers slapped each other on the back in congratulations. "The wickedest one there ever was, the enemy of all of us here in Oz, IS DEAD!"
The Land of Wind and Shade was filled with townspeople cheering from their rooftops, from the balconies, from their windows. Could it really be? Were they finally rid of the scourge upon their world? "Good news!" It was amazing! Wondrous! Sublime!
"Good news!" And then a new voice was added to the squall. Ringing out loud and clear, it emanated from a young man descending from the sky. Encased in a large bubble, the human dressed in blue robes floated slowly downward to the celebrating crowd below. A symbol of the Breeze he commanded graced the front of his T-shirt, at odds with his bright yellow shoes. Over his short black hair a long blue hood perpetually flowed in the wind. Black square-rimmed glasses rested on his boyish face. He gave a cheeky grin, large front teeth poking out from under his top lip. By his side, a yellow salamander accompanied him in the glassy sphere, more tiny bubbles coming out of its mouth.
"It's Good to see me, isn't it?" He said with kind blue eyes to the populace below. Their combined voices stopped proclaiming delight at the "news", and just plain screamed in delight at his presence. If someone had thought the previous amount of joy was high, then they were completely wrong.
"It's the Heir of Breath!"
"John the Good!"
"No need to respond, that was rhetorical." John said with a giggle. However, the crowd below continued to voice how very, very Good indeed it was to see him. Just like he knew they would. John cleared his throat and composed himself. "Fellow Ozians…" he began, raising his voice for all to hear,
Let us be glad.
Let us be grateful.
Let us rejoicify that Goodness could subdue,
The Wicked workings of You-Know-Who!
He spread his arms out, as if a gesture to calm the people's hearts. The young man paid no mind to the dull threat of tears behind his eyes.
Isn't it nice to know,
That Good will conquer evil?
The Heir of Breath managed to bring a convincing smile to his face. He had to stay strong…none of them knew what he knew. It wasn't their fault… None of them knew any better… He took a shaky breath.
The truth we all believe'll by and by,
Out-live a lie,
But what was the real lie here? If only they could see behind the happy mask he felt plastered onto his face…
"For you and…"
"John!" A male voice interrupted him from below.
John trailed off, surprised. "…Eh?"
"Exactly how dead IS he?" At these words, the people began to murmur. Good point. They had only heard one small scrap of news after all; he might still be out there. After all, that troll was notorious throughout the land for good reasons…it was easy to imagine him crawling back out of his watery grave, or simply lying low and then leaping from the shadows to strike again, his nubby horns red with rage.
"Well," The Heir of Breath began, trying to get the attention of his adoring public, "there has been much rumor and speculation. Innuendo, outuendo…" He waved a dismissive hand, grossly misusing the words. "…But let me set the record straight."
"According to the Judgement Clock, the melting occurred at the Thirteenth Hour (That's Midnight in human terms), a direct result of a pot of water…" He was careful to avoid offending the trolls in the audience by using the word bucket, "…thrown by a female human child." John straightened up in his bubble and tried to hold himself high. He took a deep, heroic breath to steady himself for what he was about to say: "Yes. The Knight of Blood we all fear is dead!"
The sentence had barely flown from his lips when the crowd erupted in renewed vigor. The sea of celebration and elation resumed. Humans and trolls hugged and shouted with certainty now. A few individuals absconded from the fray, carrying the happy news to those who weren't yet blessed with the gift of confirmation. Many more were crying happy tears now. The group continued their celebrations while their hooded guardian watched with a practiced smile and aching heart from above.
"No one mourns the Wicked!" came a shout from one particularly exuberant troll.
A pair of human women replied, "No one cries 'They won't return!"
Soon the whole mass of citizens caught on. "No one lays a lily on their grave!"
Having thought up a new line, the same troll voiced: "The good man scorns the Wicked!" Not to be outdone, a human said, "Through our lives, our children learn…what we miss when we misbehave." A few more people joined in for the last words, creating a chorus.
"And Goodness knows," John spoke to the people below in a voice like wind chimes, "The Wickeds' lives are lonely…" He had to remain strong. He was a public figure, respected, admired. A hero, just like he had always wanted to be.
Dave would have appreciated the irony.
"Goodness knows, the Wicked die alone," John gasped at the emotions that struck his heart as he said that line. He squeezed his eyes shut. He would not think of that troll. Or what had happened to him… Or that it was his fault in a way… John opened his eyes to see some friendly villagers reach up to help him down from his ride; the bubble had almost reached the ground. John smiled at their Goodness, and allowed himself to be welcomed into a whirlwind of kisses and handshakes and bows. "It just shows, when you're Wicked, you're left lonely, on your own."
And Goodness knows, the Wickeds' lives are lonely,
Goodness knows, the Wicked cry alone,
Nothing grows for the Wicked, they reap only,
What they've sown
"John?" A child's voice spoke from the crowd. The young man turned to look into the youth's large brown eyes. "Why does Wickedness happen?"
He answered. "That's a Good question." A whiff of Breeze ruffled the shy child's hair, eliciting a giggle. "One that many people find confusifying." John turned so that he addressed the majority of the people gathered. "Are people born Wicked? Or do they have Wickedness thrust upon them?" He questioned, posing for effect. "After all, he was once a wriggler…"
John: Narrate the past. ===+
"He had a father, who just happened to be the mayor of Lowblood Hills…"
Somewhere far in the past, a male troll with small, almost nubby, horns bid goodbye to his green-blooded matesprit. Her blood was just yellow-green enough to classify her as a permanent resident of the lands reserved for those not high on the hemospectrum. At first they seemed an unlikely match; his occasionally explosive temper coupled with her cat puns and wild ways. But anyone could soon see that they clicked. They had their healthy instances of hate. They kept each other sane and in line. He had enough knowledge of romance to auspiticize their problems. All built on a basis of pity. According to rumor, their love went beyond the four quadrants…or whatever trolls called them. Being mayor of Lowblood Hills wasn't an easy job, but some nooksucker had to do it.
"I'm off to work, dear." He said while adjusting his Righteous Leggings and putting his trusty sickle safely in his strife specibus.
Times had changed. Humans and trolls and the creatures called lusus naturae now lived together, for instance, in an unlikely mix of cultures and traditions. It had been an interesting process, and there was still the occasional bump along the road to peace, but everyone had made a magnificent effort for the greater Good. Both groups had adjusted to the others' strange ways, but the hemospectrum still held sway over trolls' lives. Visitation to a different part of the lands was not forbidden, but your home would always be either with lowbloods or highbloods, or somewhere in-between. Nevertheless, Oz was a peaceful, magical, astounding, wwonderful ruby mixing pot.
"He had a mother, as so many do."
A lithe female troll came bounding towards her matesprit, green designs on her black dress a blur. The other soon found himself accosted by a full-force tacklepouncehug. He gasped under the mop of unruly black hair, crowned by a pair of horns shaped like cat ears. Her olive green eyes twinkled and she gave him a lipstick-stained kiss.
"Kinda sucks that I have to go and leave you lonely on short notice…" he said, recovering quickly.
"That's alright! It's only just one night, Jegus." purred a reply. "Be Good!"
He returned her kiss and headed to the door, his Disciple waving a clawed hand. "
Just know you're curled up in my heart,
While you're out of my sight!
"And like every family…they had their secrets."
The Disciple yawned contentedly later that evening, all stretched out on the couch by a warm fireplace. This was just purrfect…
And then the door rang.
Mrw? The olive-blooded troll wondered who could be at the door. Her matesprit wouldn't return for a while, she mew that. Then…was it pawssibly a visitor? Her feral eyes lit up with curiosity. How fun! She rushed to get the door.
"Oh…it's you." A bit reluctantly, perhaps, she let her guest in.
"Yeah, me. Guess you an red-blood didn't expect me, miss cat-eyes." The mystery man swept into the hive. "I guess I should apologize for bargin' in like this, but well… shit happens."
"Don't start making yourself comfurrtable just yet." The green troll growled at her guest. He had parked himself on the couch and started lying down. "Just what is your business here? Your kind doesn't usually purruse these lands too often."
"Relax, catfish. I just had to make a trip for some ingredients. You remember my hobbies…" This elicited a disdainful sniff from his catty companion.
Her sharp eye caught something. "What's that?" She asked, pointing to a small bottle on the other's person.
"Oh, this? It's not much. Just a…experiment." He took the tiny bottle and shook it slowly. A cloudy white liquid swirled inside the glass container. It was hard to tell, but in the dark surroundings the mysterious matter almost seemed to…glow? "Wwhite elixir." he said softly, reverently.
"What does it do?" She stalked closer, entranced.
"Nothin'." He got up and held the bottle away from her. "You can't get it." She snatched for it, long nails raking the air. Missed. "It's not that important." Yes it was, if he was playing keep-away with her! It was like a game. She must have it. It must be hers. She hated being teased! If something was right out of her reach, she was going to try to get it! "Curiosity killed the cat you knoww." And here he made his mistake. The bottle was dangled right in front of her nose, and then quickly retracted. But not quick enough.
Fast as lightning, she snatched it from his hand. Giving a sound of delight, she clutched her prize close. "…Fine. Guess I don't get to drink it then."
That was all he had to say to ensure that she would, indeed, drink it.
Have another little swallow little lady,
And follow me down!
Ancestors: Be first-time lusii. I mean parents. = = =+
Things had definitely changed. When trolls first came to Oz and started to settle, they found no Mother Grub. And all the lusii were more intelligent and talkative then the ones on Alternia. Not anything like what they were used to charging with raising grubs.
So, after many heated debates and speeches and forceful changing of minds, it was settled. They would adapt. It had been done before; it was possible. The humans assured them it was worth it. They would raise their own young. With new technology it was now possible to know your descendant, become parents and even have siblings! Siblings were still considered rare, however.
And it just so happened that today, the 16th bilunar perigee of the 9th dark season's equinox, was the day of their grub's larval awakening, also known as his wriggling day. The two trolls had recieved the notice well in advance. He would have been hatched today, and considering that the trials were easier now then at any point before in history, it was likely that he would arrive within 24 hours. Which was why both almost-new-parents were currently in their hive, trying not to pull their hair out.
The Waiting was well-known to trolls by now. One spouse would always have to try calming the other down. Then they would scream, fidget, and try to distract each other in any possible way. Teeth gnashing and sudden panic attacks were common. There was no way of knowing when the Storking Drones would arrive with your bundle of mess. It was widely regarded as a wonderful time.
And there it was. The bell, or if you didn't have a doorbell a knock, to signal the customary and equally well-known Race to the Door. The Disciple lept with a screech from her anxious perch at the bottom of a staircase. Jegus made no attempt to stem the constant flow of colorful swear words from his mouth as he flew to the door. It was said that the first one to reach the door was the first troll the grub would see. They turned the handle together, at the same moment. There it was! In the drone's arms…
It's a happy, healthy, lovely little…
"And from the moment he hatched he was, well, different…"
The grub's mother lept back with a scream. The father too, could hardly believe his eyes.
How can it be? What does it mean?
This couldn't be right. Something must have gone wrong somewhere. Because…because…grubs were the color of their blood...
It's atrocious! It's obscene!
And this one…this one…their grub…their grub was…was…
Like a bright candy-red cherry, the grub is unnaturally…
Solemn, in shocked silence, the grub was taken from the Stork's outstretched arms. His mother held the small life close to her chest, worry and fear tossing and turning in her eyes like an ocean. The two ancestors stood there for a while. Their child was a mutant.
"…Take it away." She looked up, startled at the hiss in Jegus's voice. "Take it AWAY!" he screamed.
John: Try to make them understand, even a little bit. = = = +
"So you see, it couldn't have been easy…" The Heir of Breath winced as he was interrupted by cheers.
No one mourns the Wicked!
Now at last, he's dead and gone,
Now at last, there's joy throughout the Lands,
Oh no, his talk on the Knight of Blood's earliest moments had had the opposite effect. Instead, all the others rejoiced even further, perceiving his tale as a story of bad times in the past. They didn't live in a world where the red-blooded mutant terrorized them anymore! In their celebration there was no room for anything but pure, unbridled joy. John sighed, and joined in, as he was expected to. "And Goodness knows…"
Goodness knows, the Wicked's lives are lonely,
Goodness knows, the Wicked die alone,
"He died alone!" John cried, his voice lost in the commotion of victory.
Woe to those who spurn what Goodness they are shown
No one mourns the Wicked!
A chorus of voices rang throughout the Lands. It started with a rumble, and spread over the hills, carrying far and wide.
Good news! Good news!
The Good people were joined in their happiness by a hero in blue, who sang in spite of his broken heart.
No one mourns the Wicked!
Yes, let it all be heard throughout the land, from heart to heart.
No one mourns…
In voices loud and clear, young and old.
This tale drenched in the red of injustice…
A tale of Wickedness.