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The Coven of Oz

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Overture: Lamia's Doll by Ilan Eshkeri


 

March, 2017

 

Within the wilderness of western Oz, on the outskirts of the Winkie Village, there stood a castle built of yellow marble and stone. Despite the beauty of its Gothic design, the villagers avoided this golden fortress because it was inhabited by a coven of witches. Three of the coven’s members were the infamous Greek witches known as Circe, Meda, and Medusa. Known as the disciples of Hecate, these three women were renowned for their grisly deeds that had been documented in the pages of myth and legend, their crimes known throughout the Mediterranean. But Greece was no longer their home. They were in the Land of Oz now, having joined forces with the Sanderson Sisters of Salem, Massachusetts.

 

“Tonight, we shall pay tribute to our mistress,” Sarah whispered to Circe as they walked through the corridors together.

 

Medusa, Mary, and Winifred followed the two witches as they tip-toed along the floor. Circe raised her head up to the ceiling and smiled at the decor. Medieval banners hanged from the corridor’s roof, depicting characters from the pages of classic fairy tales and Greek myths. The coven recognized the faces of Hades, Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Persephone, the Evil Queen, Pinocchio, the Wicked Witch of the West, Princess Tiana, Maid Marian, Zeus, the Three Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, Hercules and Megara, Snow White, Hecate, Rapunzel and Prince Eugene, Belle and the Beast, Hansel and Gretel, the Three Bears, Little John, Ariel, and Robin Hood.

 

“Who made those banners?” Circe asked Medea.

 

“The God of Death created them for the Wicked Witch,” Medusa replied.

 

“Hades?” Sarah asked.

 

Medea shook her head.

 

“My girlfriend's referring to Thanatos, who works for Hades as one of his Grim Reapers,” Circe said. “Hades is a huge fan of Death.”

 

“And so is Red Riding Hood,” Sarah said.

 

“Is Red Riding Hood a witch?” Mary asked.

 

“Ruby Lucas? No, she’s not a witch. Red Riding Hood is a huntress and the leader of the Wild Hunt,” Medusa said to Mary. "She's the girlfriend of Dorothy."

 

"And quite deadly with a hatchet," Winifred whispered to her sisters. "I heard that Red Riding Hood's hatchet is enchanted so it behaves like a boomerang, never missing its target and always returning to its owner."

 

As the witches conversed with one another, Medusa crept up from behind the sisters and screamed in their ears. Sarah jumped, grimacing at the Gorgon.

 

“What was that for?” Mary asked.

 

“This is no time to be bickering and appreciating fairytale-themed artwork!” Medusa snapped at the witches. “We must make a soup for our Goddess.”

 

The Sanderson Sisters joined hands with Circe as they followed Medusa onto the terrace of the Yellow Castle, where a boiling cauldron stood on a raised platform.

 

“Since tonight is the sabbath, we shall recite the traditional Cauldron Chant and summon Hecate,” Medusa said.

 

“Let the Goddess be appeased,” Mary said.

 

“For she is fearful and powerful. Just like you,” Sarah said to Circe.

 

The Enchantress smiled at the four witches. Medusa picked up a mahogany bowl from the floor. The bowl was filled with the dismembered limbs and entrails of woodland animals.

 

“Did you bring the ingredients for Hecate’s supper?” Circe asked Medusa.

 

The Gorgon nodded. Circe placed the bowl on an altar next to the cauldron.

 

“Now we shall begin the summoning ritual,” Winifred said to Medusa.

 

“Yes, my dear sisters! Let us sumon our beloved Goddess,” the Gorgon said.

 

The witches cackled as Medea tossed the bowl’s contents into the bubbling broth of their cauldron. The Sanderson Sisters cackled and began to chant in Italian:

 

Doppio, doppio lavoro e problemi,
Bolla di fuoco e calderone!
Filetto di un serpente fenny,
Nel caldron bollire e infornare.


Occhio di tritone e zampe di rana,
Lana di pipistrello e lingua di cane,
La forchetta e la puntura del verme cieco del sommatore,
La gamba di Lizard e l'ala di civetta,
Per un fascino di potenti problemi,
Come un brodo d'acqua bollente e bolle.

 

As green smoke and flames erupted from the cauldron, Hecate appeared beside Medusa. The Goddess of Witchcraft was clothed in a blue hooded dress and dark purple gloves, her indigo hair curling down to her hips in a tangled mass. Despite her elderly state, she attempted to glamour herself with sparkling blue lipstick and dark blue eyeshadow.

 

“Good evening, Hecate,” Circe said to the Goddess.

 

“Hello, Circe. I notice that a certain member of our coven is missing,” Hecate sneered.

 

“Which witch?” Winifred wondered.

 

“The Wicked Witch,” Hecate sighed. “Mistress West?”

 

“Are you referring to Zelena?” Sarah asked.

 

“Obviously,” Hecate said. “She was supposed to be here for the summoning ritual.”

 

“Why?” Circe asked.

 

“So that I may speak to her,” Hecate said.

 

“But what if she doesn’t want to talk to you?” Circe asked.

 

Hecate faced her servant.

 

“What do you mean?” the Goddess said.

 

“Maybe she prefers being alone,” Circe said.

 

“Maybe she doesn’t like you that much,” Sarah said to the Goddess.

 

“Or maybe she doesn’t like you!” Winifred spat at her sister.

 

Mary sneered at her sister and slapped the back of her head, grinning at Hecate as she kissed Circe’s hand.

 

“Sorry about those hags, Hecate. They can be obnoxious sometimes,” Medea said.

 

“I understand, my dear sorceress,” Hecate said to her servant.

 

Medusa smiled and bowed to the Goddess.

 

“Do you want me to get Mistress West?” she asked her mistress.

 

“Yes, please. Go fetch Zelena,” Hecate said.

 

“As you wish,” Medusa said. “I shall take my leave.”

 

Medea watched as Medusa exited the terrace and walked back into the castle.

 

“Do you think something’s wrong with Mistress West?” Winfried said to Hecate.

 

“I doubt it, since she’s been wicked as usual,” Hecate replied.

 

Meanwhile, in the West Wing of the Yellow Castle, Zelena sat in her bedroom and drank tequila from a crystal flask as she gazed into her crystal ball. Seated between the Wicked Witch were her two Winged Monkeys, Finley and Rafiki. Finley was the former servant of the Wizard, but worked under the Wicked Witch’s service as her butler.

 

“Who are you spying on?” Finley asked the Witch.

 

“Glinda the Good,” Zelena replied.

 

Reflected in the crystal ball’s image was the Good Witch of the South. Seated in the living room of her ruby palace in Quadling Country, Glinda was shown to be having tea and sharing cakes with the royal court of Princess Ozma.

 

“Were you her friend?” Rafiki wondered.

 

“We were more than friends, my little man. Glinda used to be my lover.”

 

“Are you being honest or are you joking?” Finley asked.

 

“She’s being serious,” Rafiki whispered to Finley.

 

“I always speak the truth,” Zelena said. “We were the imperfect couple.”

 

“What made you break up?” Finley asked.

 

The Wicked Witch scowled as she formed her clawed hand into a fist, focusing her gaze on an image of Dorothy and her three friends.

 

“All hell broke loose when that damned farm girl dropped in.”

 

“Farm girl?” Rafiki asked.

 

“She’s talking about Dorothy,” Finley said.

 

“What did Dorothy ever do to you?” Rafiki asked the Witch.

 

“As my servant, my personal tragedies are none of your concern,” Zelena said to the Winged Monkey. “Do you hear me?”

 

Rafiki nodded.

 

“Yes, Mistress West.”

 

The Wicked Witch of the West reclined in her chair, staring at the crystal ball. She was thinking of her reputation, remembering how the Munchkins and Quadlings of Oz had feared her for centuries. While most Ozians stereotyped Zelena as a hideous and elderly spinster, she was actually a beautiful woman with a reputation for breaking hearts and destroying the happiness of those who provoked her. Though not overly intimidating, she wore a black eyepatch over her right eye and always carried an umbrella. Her wardrobe, which was black and green, consisted of the traditional garments that one would expect from the classic storybook witch, including a wide-brimmed hat with a conical crown and a black Victorian dress with a leather bustier.

 

Finley stared at his mistress.

 

“Zelena?”

 

“What do you want?” the Wicked Witch asked.

 

“Got any evil plans?” Finley asked.

 

“Of course I do,” Zelena said. “First, I am going to get my revenge on Dorothy by stealing Toto and those shoes from her. After that, I shall reclaim Glinda and we shall be a happy couple once more.”

 

“Isn’t Dorothy a sorceress?” Finley asked.

 

“Fuck, no! She’s a Kansas girl who became a warrior princess,” Rafiki laughed.

 

“Besides, she doesn’t stand a chance against my power,” Zelena added.

 

“Why do you wish to destroy Dorothy?” Finley asked.

 

“Know what? Since you’re so curious, I shall tell you,” Zelena said. “After my real sister abandoned me, I formed a sisterly relationship with Evanora. She was the Wicked Witch of the East.”

 

“Did you have the same mother?” Finley asked.

 

“We were sisters by choice, not by birth. My mother was Maleficent, the Dark Fairy who rules over Neverland.”

 

“Have you read or watched Sleeping Beauty ?” Rafiki asked his friend.

 

Finley nodded. Zelena continued her story,

 

“When I first became the Wicked Witch of the West, I bonded with Evanora and we became the most ferocious pair of sisters that Oz has ever seen. Sadly, when Dorothy crash-landed in Oz, my beloved sister had been crushed by that stupid girl’s farmhouse.”

 

“Maybe Evanora’s death was an accident,” Finley said to the Witch.

 

“Dorothy called it an accident, but Glinda referred to the incident as a sudden and unexpected twister of fate,” Zelena said. “But that’s not even the worst part.”

 

“What’s the worst part?” Finley asked.

 

“Evanora had an enchanted pair of shoes, the Silver Slippers, which Dorothy stole from the feet of her corpse. Those shoes were meant to be my fucking property!”

 

“I thought the slippers were made of rubies?” Finley asked.

 

“They were silver, my dear,” Rafiki confirmed. “Besides, red is an unattractive color. Silver, on the other hand, is more brilliantly fashionable.”

 

“I’ve always been partial to red, since it’s quite beautiful,” Finley said.

 

“To each their own,” the Witch sneered.

 

Finley grabbed a broomstick from the floor and handed it to Zelena. The Wicked Witch snatched the broom from her servant.

 

“Do you use that broom to fly?” the Monkey asked.

 

“Yes, but I also use it for the relief of sexual tension,” Zelena said. 

 

“Masturbation?” Finley guessed.

 

The Wicked Witch smirked and nodded at the Monkey.

 

“It's a common stereotype that every wicked witch needs a broomstick to take flight. Personally, I am perfectly capable of defying gravity without riding around on a wooden phallus.”

 

The Witch smiled as she continued to concentrate on her crystal ball. She was interrupted by Medusa, who stormed into the room with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.

 

“Mistress West?”

 

Zelena turned around and smiled at the monstrous woman.

 

“Good evening, Medusa. Why do you summon me?” the Wicked Witch asked her companion.

 

“Hecate needs you,” Medusa replied.

 

“But why?”

 

“It’s between you and her,” Medusa said.

 

“Very well. Take me to your mistress,” Zelena said.

 

Medusa led the Wicked Witch onto the terrace, where the Sanderson Sisters and their fellow were serving dinner to Hecate. Upon seeing the Goddess, Zelena rolled her eyes and hissed at the woman.

 

“Mistress Zelena of the Western Woods, I am pleased to see your beautifully green face,” Hecate said to the Witch.

 

“Too bad I don’t feel the same way about you,” Zelena said.

 

“Be polite,” Circe said to her companion.

 

“Why should I?” Zelena asked.

 

“I’m glad you asked,” Hecate said. “Since you’ve been a member of the Sanderson Sisterhood for thirteen years, I’ve decided to give you a special gift.”

 

“Is it a book?” Zelena guessed.

 

Hecate smiled and reached inside the left sleeve of her gown, taking out a book with a crimson leather cover.

 

“Is that the Zauberbuch?” the Wicked Witch asked.

 

“The oldest grimoire in magical history,” Hecate said. “Written in the languages of Germany and Italy, the pages of this book include spells, chants, and recipes.”

 

“Recipes for potions?” Zelena asked.

 

“Potions and meals,” Hecate confirmed.

 

Zelena reached for the book, but Hecate restrained her.

 

“You must earn this book,” the Goddess said to her disciple.

 

“And what exactly do you want from me?” the Wicked Witch asked.

 

“An elixir with the power to make me eternally young,” Hecate said. “A Goddess or witch is capable of obtaining eternal life, but everlasting youth and beauty isn’t always a possibility for the wicked.”

 

"I thought you were always young?" Zelena asked.

 

"I used to be quite seductive, until Hera cursed me with old age."

 

“What must I do?” Zelena asked.

 

“Bring the following ingredients to me: Peppermint, chocolate, poppy seeds, the brain of a foolhardy strawman, and the heart of a fighter."

 

“Alright, but how should the potion be brewed?” the Witch asked.

 

“The elixir must be concocted before the stroke of midnight on the thirteenth day of this month,” Hecate said. “Otherwise, I shall be a crone forever.”

 

“I shall do as you have instructed,” Zelena promised.

 

“Wonderful! Tomorrow, travel to the Black Forest and visit Hilda,” Hecate said to the Witch. “She’ll supply you with the first two ingredients.”

 

“The Blind Witch? But she’s my arch nemesis!” Zelena stammered.

 

“And an infamous baker,” Circe remarked.

 

Zelena sighed and sat down next to the cauldron.

 

“Alright, but there’s something else I need to tell you,” the Wicked Witch said to Hecate. “Are you familiar with Glinda?”

 

“The Good Witch of the South? What about her?”

 

“She’s a former lover of mine, and I wish to reunite with her,” Zelena said.

 

“You can’t! Goodness and evil don’t mix,” Circe said.

 

“But she’s one of the few women in Oz who view me as being more than an emerald-skinned monster with a bitchy attitude,” Zelena said.

 

“And what do you see in her?” Hecate asked.

 

“She is an honest and wise lady,” Zelena said.

 

“That’s true,” Circe said.

 

“Also, I’m going to steal the Silver Slippers from Dorothy.”



“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Sarah cheered. “I hope you get those shoes, Zelena.”

 

“Thanks, Medea,” Zelena said to her friend.

 

“Who’s Dorothy?” Winifred asked her sisters.

 

“She’s a farm girl from Kansas who has recently joined Ozma’s royal court,” Zelena said to Mary. “Twenty-two years ago, she murdered my sister and purloined her prized pumps.”

 

“The Silver Slippers?” Mary said.

 

Zelena and Hecate nodded.

 

"Didn't Dorothy liquidate you with a bucket of water?" Sarah asked.

 

"Yes, but Hades brought me back from the dead. I have a thirst for revenge."

 

“But I thought that villains don’t get happy endings?” Circe asked.

 

“That may be true, but guess what? It’s time that the wicked ones rewrote the book on fairy tales and changed their lives for the better,” the Wicked Witch said.

 

“I hope you get your wish,” Hecate said to Zelena.

 

“Thank you, Hecate.”

 

Hecate bowed to her disciple and smiled.

 

“Remember your mission, my dear Zelena.”

 

“I will make sure to get the ingredients,” Zelena said.

 

“Excellent!” Hecate cheered.

 

The Goddess turned and faced her coven.

 

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bone to pick with Hades in the Underworld. He stole my apple tree and won’t give it back, so I’ll have to force it out of his garden.”

 

Hecate waved goodbye to the witches, vanishing in a cloud of green smoke. As soon as the Goddess had made her dramatic exit, Zelena knocked over the cauldron. The pot’s contents spilled onto the floor of the terrace, staining the golden tile.

 

“Clean this mess up,” the Wicked Witch ordered her companions.

 

“But you made the mess,” Mary said.

 

“Yes, but you are my friends. Now make sure the floor is spotless. Meanwhile, I have to prepare for my quest tomorrow.”