Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Oz had grown older and wiser in the last fifteen years. Glinda had ruled fairly and justly and soon every province in the land was prospering. They had not seen hide nor hair of any peoples visiting from outside Oz and that seemed to suit everyone just fine. Even the mighty Bonescraper, had not made his presence known in quite a few years.
Zara stared out the Palace windows awaiting the arrival of her friend, Emir. She had thought he'd be here by now and it worried her slightly. The young man had promised to stop by the Palace after visiting his home. Elphaba had wanted Zara to get out of the Palace for school and the Queen had agreed but did not want her granddaughter going to regular public school, mostly for safety concerns.
For the first few years, Elphaba tutored Zara once the young girl had become old enough to actually start school. Ayla had finally reached agreements between the tribes and a school was started for all of the children of the higher ranking tribal leaders. The decision to locate the school in the capital had been argued over but once it was promised that the students would gain special teaching in the ways of leadership, the tribal leaders agreed. Housing was given to the students along with up to two family members so the younger students wouldn't be alone. Not surprisingly, representatives jumped at the chance to visit their children when in town to meet with the King and Queen. There were also breaks that students and their family members could go home for.
It had seemed to be a great way to teach the children the differences between the tribes and each ones customs. Zara had met the tall and lanky, dark skinned boy, whose jet black hair was always tied tightly back into a ponytail. Emir was of the Yunamata tribe and he longed to follow in the footsteps of his father, who led his people. However, more and more the young man found himself drawn to staying in the capital city.
"There you are. Shouldn't you be doing your homework?" Elphaba asked, breaking her daughter's thoughts.
"Emir is coming over. We were going to do our homework together," Zara explained, turning her focus from her window to her mother.
"Oh he is, is he? Is that why you were staring out the window instead of working on your algebra?" Her mother wondered.
"Well we promised to work together. Anyway, even if he doesn't come, I can do the homework in my sleep," Zara told her.
"A little full of ourselves aren't we? I know you can't do your sorcery homework in your sleep," Elphaba gave her a look.
"My lack of control still bothers me," her daughter admitted.
"I didn't gain full control until I was about halfway through college. I'm not expecting you to do so before then either. I just want you to be able to be the best you can be. Your powers come with great responsibility and as a future Queen, the people will expect you to use your powers to protect them," Elphaba said.
"You'll be there to help me, right mom?" At that moment, the almost sixteen year old seemed more like an eight year old, unsure of who she was and how she'd just blown a hole in the Palace wall.
"As long as I can be sweetheart," the elder green woman pulled her into a hug. There was a knock at the door and the two separated before Elphaba bade the person to enter.
"Mr. Emir Aksoy for Duchess Zara," Lieutenant Ash announced.
"I shall leave you to it," Elphaba smiled and kissed the top of her daughter's head before leaving the room.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
"I just received word that Glinda and Balfour will be gracing us with their presence in two days' time. They have promised that they will be bringing Isabelle with them," Fiyero announced as Elphaba walked into the King's study. He was sitting in a plush chair, reading the latest updates from the tribal leaders and financial reports for the past few months.
"Zara will be happy to hear it. It's not that I don't want to see my friends but did she say why she'd be making a visit? It does seem odd to pull Isabelle away from her studies when spring break is only two weeks away," she said. The green woman took a seat in the chair next to him and picked up her knitting that she'd been doing earlier. Surprisingly, Elphaba had never thought she'd enjoy something like knitting but in making toys for the children at the orphanage, she had found it relaxing and purposeful.
"I asked my father the same question and he wasn't sure himself. As far as I know, there are no pressing matters that need the Vinkus's input," her husband told her.
"I was having another thought but you said that they were only bringing Isabelle and not Bartholomew so that can't be it either," Elphaba's response was a bit cryptic.
"Back up a minute. What does Bart have to do with anything?" Fiyero wanted to know.
"Zara is quickly approaching the marrying age, as is custom in the Vinkus correct? As much as I would want her to marry like you and I did, I don't think the Vinkun people would see it that way. Bartholomew has had a crush on Zara since they were five and six years old. It would only make sense that they would be paired together," she explained.
"She's not even dating until she's thirty-five so I fail to see the relevance of that statement," Fiyero shook his head.
"Fiyero, be reasonable. Besides, it's not like you haven't known Bartholomew his whole life, but you might be right. There are bigger fish to fry anyway," the green woman said.
"What do you mean?" Now Fiyero was getting worked up.
"I believe our daughter only has eyes for Emir Aksoy of the Yunamata. This would be the third time this week he's come over to do homework with her," Elphaba smiled. Fiyero's jaw practically hit the floor. That's when his mother walked into the room.
"Fiyero, the gaping fish look is really not for you. What's going on? I heard Glinda will be here in a couple of days," Ayla said. Fiyero closed his mouth up and gave his mother a look.
"We're trying to figure that out for ourselves, especially since Bartholomew isn't joining them," Elphaba said.
"Well that would be because Bart is getting engaged to cousin Derya. Aytac told me the good news just a few minutes ago via Bird messenger. They're announcing it to all of Oz tomorrow," the Queen told them.
"When did that happen? I thought he was chasing after Zara," Fiyero was thoroughly confused.
"As did I…" Elphaba looked up from her knitting.
"I think we all thought that but Aytac's letter would suggest otherwise. It could be a match of convenience but somehow I doubt that," Ayla frowned.
"Somehow I think Khalil would have shot him, not caring who he was, if Derya came home pregnant, they are much too young," Fiyero said. The Prince was right. Bartholomew was only fifteen years old and Derya was only fourteen. While it wasn't uncommon for young people of royal lineage or children of Ozian leaders to be engaged at young ages and then married when they reached eighteen, no one in the castle had even known that the two had been dating or that the idea of an arranged marriage had been discussed.
"Maybe we have the reason that Glinda is going to be here in a few days. Something is up," Elphaba frowned.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
The two days flew by and soon Fiyero, Elphaba, and Zara were meeting their friends at the Palace's front steps.
"It is good to see you. It has been awhile hasn't it?" Elphaba asked.
"Too long Elphie. It would seem like Lurlinimas was forever ago," Glinda hugged her best friend.
"It's only been three months Aunt Glinda," Zara chuckled.
"Yes well things have been surprisingly dull in the Emerald City up until Barty's announcement," the blonde was her usual bubbly self.
"You will have to tell us all about it over dinner. I'm guessing that Bart had to stay in the City to give the usual whirlwind tour of the Council chamber and introducing his future bride?" Fiyero spoke up.
"Actually he had a test he could not miss and will be here in a few days. The journey is a little longer by horse," Glinda stepped in before her husband of the last fifteen years could speak up. Everyone noticed that Isabelle had been awfully quiet; something the almost as bubbly as her mother girl, was hardly ever seen being.
"Right, well why don't we let you guys get settled and we'll meet down in the dining room in half an hour?" Fiyero wondered.
"That would be great. I'm quite parched," Balfour winked at the Prince.
"I have no doubt. My father has been itching to open the bottle of scotch in his cupboard and celebrating an engagement seems like the best time to open it," Fiyero winked back. They all headed into the Palace and showed their friends to their rooms. Then the three Tiggulars headed for the dining room.
"Something is really wrong," Zara finally voiced her opinion.
"You bet there is. Isabelle didn't even ask if your brother was here," Elphaba frowned. Semir, Zara's younger brother, was off learning to hunt in the Thousand Year Grasslands with the Arjiki elders. It was his rite of passage in Vinkun culture to not only prove to the elders that he was worthy of the title Prince but also as a future King. He would be back just in time for Zara to go on spring break. Isabelle and Semir were close in age and had always enjoyed engaging each other in a friendly game of chess along with learning how to bake.
"She didn't even say "hi". Something is really wrong and Glinda and Balfour seem to be dancing around the subject," Fiyero frowned.
"What could be the worst thing I ever tell you?" Zara suddenly asked.
"What?" Fiyero was confused.
"In your minds – what is the worst thing you could hear me say?" His daughter tried again.
"Honey, nothing you say or do would be bad enough for us to pull you out of school early and travel halfway across Oz. Nor would it be bad enough that we'd try to marry you off," Elphaba gave her a look.
"You're sweet but if I came home and said I robbed a bank, you wouldn't just brush it off," Zara pointed out.
"Well I can say for sure that Isabelle and Bartholomew certainly didn't do anything that Glinda and Balfour would take such measures," her mother shook her head.
"I'd actually prefer that to the thought I just had," Fiyero swallowed; both ladies looked at him, waiting for him to continue.
"One of them could be sick and not the "oh I have a cold" kind of sick," the Prince finished.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Outside a storm started to brew. Thunder could be heard in the distance and lightning followed it. It was not uncommon in the Vinkus at this time of year for the weather to turn quickly. The weather had offered a distraction as dinner conversation had grown quite strained. Elphaba wasn’t one for beating around the bush so it was killing her to not just shout out that she wanted to know what was going on. Fiyero had grabbed her hand under the table, knowing his wife all too well. It seemed that the Queen knew that the green woman was antsy as well.
“Glinda, Balfour, it’s not that we don’t enjoy your company but we’re all confused as to why the visit couldn’t wait until Isabelle’s spring break. Not only that, we found out from Aytac that her Derya is marrying Bartholomew. We didn’t even know that they were courting. Aytac and Khalil are happy, do not get us wrong, but they did not expound very much in their letter,” Ayla spoke up, forcing the issue. Isabelle looked across the table at Zara and the older girl looked back. The two had been friends almost their entire lives and Zara could read the younger one’s face. Suddenly, Isabelle stood up and excused herself, leaving the room before the King permitted her to leave. Elphaba nodded picked her head up slightly and Zara nodded before heading out after the girl.
“Izzy! Wait!” Zara called after the girl, who had broken out into a run in the hallway. Isabelle was a track star and it would be hard to catch her. The younger girl knew this and did not slow down when her friend called out, so Zara started after her.
“Princess! It is not ladylike to…” Havva started as she walked out of her quarters and was almost knocked down by her charge.
“It’s Izzy!” Zara responded without slowing down. Havva knew that the younger girl would head to the one place she felt safe and away from everyone which was the garden. That would not be a good spot to be as the rain was pounding the castle and the sound of the thunder grew ever closer.
“Your broom!” Havva called out after her. Zara smirked and snapped her fingers as she continued to run. Her broom had been forbidden to be used in the Palace after a little incident when she was younger where she’d almost gotten herself killed and only her mother was able to stop it. However, if she was going to catch Isabelle before she headed out into the storm, she needed to move faster.
The broom was by her side quickly and she took the moment it needed to hop onto it. Then she pointed it down the long hallway, hoping to catch the younger girl. When she reached the end of the hallway, where the stairs started, she found that Lieutenant Bahram had managed to stop the girl at the bottom of the staircase. He’d had some help from Chistery as well. The two had become friends and could often be found somewhere in the Palace together.
“Izzy, thank Oz,” Zara heaved a sigh as she landed at the bottom of the stairs.
“I think she’s gotten faster, either that or I’ve gotten slower,” the Lieutenant said.
“You’ve gotten slower, you old coot,” Chistery teased. Bahram feigned hurt and then turned his attention to the younger girl.
“Good thing we stopped you. The weather has taken a turn. We expect some flooding from the river tonight. The safest place to be is inside,” he said.
“I don’t want anyone’s help!” Izzy shot back, some of the first words she’d spoken to anyone since she’d gotten to the Vinkus.
“What’s wrong sweetheart? Are you in trouble or something?” Chistery was concerned. He’d taught the two girls sign language after he’d learned how to speak English and he’d look at them as his own children.
“I…” the words stopped and the tears started. Zara climbed off of her broom and wrapped her arms around the younger girl and Isabelle buried her head into her chest.
“Whatever is going on, I’m here for you. So are the Lieutenant and Chistery and everyone else here. Just tell us what is going on so we can help,” Zara said.
“You… can’t… help… me…” Isabelle managed through her sobs.
“I’m the second most powerful witch in all of Oz, please,” the older girl tried to lighten the mood, hoping an old joke they shared would make her smile. It did not.
“Why don’t I carry her up to your room and you two can talk in privacy?” Lieutenant Bahram suggested. Zara nodded. Something was really up and she knew that she would do whatever it took to help her friend.
Chapter 5: Chapter 5
"That's it Lin! Zara just had to stop Izzy from heading out into the storm! If Chistery and the Lieutenant hadn't stopped her, Oz only knows what would have happened! What in the hell is going on?" Elphaba demanded. The group had moved into the larger study for coffee and more privacy after dinner. Chistery had posted himself outside of Zara's room and Lieutenant Bahram had quickly gone to tell the Prince and Princess what had happened.
Glinda heaved a sigh and slumped in her chair. Balfour gave her a look; he could not wait any longer. Even if his wife didn't know what to say, he knew he must.
"The reason you did not hear about Bart and Derya is because it is an arranged marriage," Balfour admitted.
"Son, my wife and I were arranged into a marriage. None of our siblings tried to head face first into danger or get pulled away from school, two weeks before a schedule break," King Tahir spoke up, raising an eyebrow.
"This may come as a shock to you but Derya is different from most girls. While we in the Vinkus do not see it as anything out of what Mother Nature has proven to be true, most in other parts of Oz would," Queen Ayla said. Her cousin, Aytac, had warned her and just wanted her to be aware. Zara had been told as well and no one in the house of Tiggular thought anything of it.
"We did what we had to do to save Izzy," Glinda finally spoke up.
"Save her from what? Being happy? I'm not sure making both of your children miserable, along with our cousin, was the best option," Elphaba gave her a look. The green one had had suspicions about Izzy as she was growing up but never pushed. This was something that only the person who felt that way could come to grips with first.
A knock on the door interrupted them and Fiyero bade the person to enter. It was Bahram with an urgent message.
"The rain is causing flooding which is quickly encroaching on the Thousand Year Grasslands. Semir and the elders are attempting to reach higher ground but if this weather persists, no part of the Grasslands will be high enough," he said. The Thousand Year Grasslands were the lowest point in the Vinkus. They flooded with regularity in the spring due to the large river that wound through the area. The annual trip that Semir was on had always been closer to the last few weeks of winter to avoid such issues.
"We must go to them. We don't have a moment to lose. When we get back we will finish this discussion," Elphaba stood from her chair, eyed her friend, and marched out of the room, heading down to her room and her broom. Fiyero took off after her, knowing that her broom wouldn't bring the entire ten person party back.
"Your broom won't be enough. How are you going to rescue them all?" He asked. His question did not go unheard by his daughter who had just opened her bedroom door. Isabelle was right behind her; her eyes were red and puffy. Chistery pulled the younger one to him and gave her a hug.
"What's going on?" Zara asked.
"Your brother and the elders are in trouble. Chistery, round up your brothers and sisters. We fly in two minutes," Elphaba told her without expounding and Chistery handed young Izzy off to Zara before heading to find his fellow Flying Monkeys.
"Dad?" Zara gave him a look.
"The weather is causing flooding in the Thousand Year Grasslands and Semir and the others are not safe. Not to worry. Your mom has everything under control. How about you two?" Fiyero was concerned at Isabelle's state of mind.
"I think it would be best for Izzy to stay with us from now on," Zara pulled no punches.
"I think her parents would object to that," he gave her a look.
"Somehow I don't think they care," Isabelle said.
To Be Continued…
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Elphaba flew through the raging storm; the Flying Monkeys were keeping pace with her. They couldn't talk due to the ferocity of the wind, rain, and thunder so they were forced to use hand signals. The visibility was terrible and they were lucky that the Grasslands were mostly flat. If there had been any trees, finding the ones they sought would be difficult. Elphaba pointed and the Flying Monkeys nosedived to the group below.
"Mom!" Semir wrapped his arms around her.
"I'm glad you're safe. Let's get out of here before things get worse," Elphaba told him. Her son quickly climbed onto the back of his mother's broom while the elders were being lifted by the Flying Monkeys. They wouldn't have a comfortable trip but thankfully it would be a short one.
Elphaba pointed back toward the direction of home and they all took to the skies hoping to get back without any trouble. The gear had to be sacrificed as they could not carry it. As quickly as they could, the group made their way back toward the Palace. Elphaba heard something over the sound of the storm but she wasn't sure she was imagining things or not. Then came a noise that everyone was familiar with,
"Princess, do you need a ride?" It was Bonescraper. The mighty dragon had appeared as if seemingly from nowhere.
"Help the others please good friend," Elphaba smiled and he nodded. The Flying Monkeys landed on the dragon's back and they helped the elders stay on the mythical creature for the remainder of the ride. They landed back at the Palace and the Flying Monkeys ferried the elders down to the soldiers waiting on the ground.
"Make sure everyone is medically checked out and given a hot bath," Elphaba ordered to a young Sergeant by the name of Doruk.
"Yes your Highness," he saluted and quickly made sure the troops helped everyone inside. Elphaba kissed Semir's forehead and sent him on his way before indicating to Bonescraper they needed to talk. She walked underneath a balcony to try and stay out of the weather, despite being completely soaked.
"You should get inside your Highness. You don't want to get sick," the dragon said.
"I will; thank you for your concern. Don't take this the wrong way but where have you been? Why are you here now?" Elphaba asked.
"The first one is a long story better saved for better weather. The second is easy, I was called. I'm guessing by little Zara who is not so little anymore," Bonescraper said.
"Things are a bit crazy around here; she might have even done it without realizing it. I will talk to her. At any rate, thank you for coming. We needed the help," Elphaba patted the dragon's paw.
"I will stay as long as you need me. Though I will be above the clouds to get out of the weather," he said.
"Yes, do what you must. We will talk soon," the green woman smiled before hopping on her broom and flying for the front door. Bonescraper took to the skies.
"Elphaba, you're going to catch a cold," Ayla was there and quickly threw a blanket around her daughter-in-law.
"I'll cure myself," the green woman smirked.
"Yes but can you whip up a hot bath?" The Queen smirked herself as the two of them started to walk upstairs.
"That sounds fantastic," Elphaba began to notice that she was shivering despite the blanket.
"I bet it does. Fiyero is with Semir but Havva has your bath at the ready. Do you need anything else?" Ayla wanted to know as they reached the top of the steps.
"Yes, I need you to smack some sense into Glinda until I get out of the tub. Then I'll take my turn," the younger woman said.
"Oh honey we are way ahead of you. Zara told me that Izzy doesn't want to go home with her parents and I have granted her wish to stay here. I have sent out my most trusted Bird to Aytac relaying the situation and I want her and her family to escort Bartholomew out here. We are going to resolve this and resolve this the family way. If it cannot be resolved, Izzy will stay here, whether Glinda and Balfour agree or not," Ayla told her as they reached Fiyero and Elphaba's room.
"Their behavior confounds me. I have never known Glinda to be this way," the green woman said. They entered the room and headed straight for the bathroom.
"I completely understand where she is coming from. While we in the Vinkus are more understanding, the rest of Oz is not. She leads Oz, which was a precarious place to be when she took power and is no less precarious now. Should her daughter be viewed as a deviant, then, despite that it is not true, the rest of Oz could call for Glinda's removal. You know yourself that the Munchkins do not tolerate anything out of what they view as normal. I have no idea what the Quadlings think but they have been bullied since the beginning of their existence. The bigger issue, I imagine, is with the Gillikin. Glinda may have become more understanding in college but the Gillikin has a history of being quite intolerant. I was very surprised that their leadership would throw in with us when we overthrew the Wizard. At first, I was worried that Lord Arduenna had broken rank but relations have improved after the downfall of the Wizard. However, that does not mean Glinda still doesn't have the old picture of her home country in her mind," Ayla explained.
"If I wasn't sure before, I would be now. The Vinkus is lucky to have you as Queen," Elphaba smiled as they attempted to strip off her wet clothes.
"Yes they are," her mother-in-law teased. They finished getting her clothes off and Ayla helped her into the tub's warm waters. The two continued to talk about the future as the younger woman warmed up and the fact that Zara may have subconsciously summoned Bonescraper.
"I heard that my favorite person in the world is here and that my sister was trying to hide her from me," Semir spoke from outside Zara's bedroom door. He had practically jumped out of the tub when Fiyero had told him that Izzy was here.
"I would never do such a thing," Zara opened the door and let him in.
"Semir!" Izzy hopped up off the bed and wrapped her arms around him. He kissed the top of her head.
"Are you ok?" He was worried as he could tell she'd been crying.
"They know," she started to cry again.
"It's going to be ok. We'll get through this. I'll not let anything happen to you," Semir promised her. Zara gave him a look and mouthed, You knew? He mouthed back, You didn't?
Chapter 7: Chapter 7
Aytac, Khalil, Derya, Adem, and Bartholomew had arrived a couple of days after the rain had finally stopped. The three days of rain had amounted in massive rainfall totals and had caused flooding in not only the Vinkus but also in Munchkinland. The Quadlings had not reported any troubles but that did not surprise many as the rivers there had been low for the last year. King Tahir had dispatched troops to help clean up and had planned to survey the damage himself the next day. Glinda had received a letter from Vice Ruler Ozma stating that she'd ordered the Gale Force to assist in Munchkinland and would keep the blonde apprised of the situation.
When the group arrived, Derya had practically run out of the carriage and up the steps of the Palace only briefly stopping to hug Elphaba, Fiyero, and his parents. Everyone noted that she skipped Glinda and Balfour before heading inside.
"You've managed to not kill each other so that's a good sign," Khalil said as he approached the group. Adem and Bartholomew had walked behind the former's parents but the older of the two looked quite displeased. Elphaba could guess why.
"I threatened to feed anyone who got on my nerves to Bonescraper and that seemed to calm everyone down," the green woman spoke up.
"We noticed him on the way in. He seemed to be enjoying the sunlight, much like everyone else around here," Aytac smiled and hugged her cousin.
"We are all glad you could come. I want us to present a united front and the last week has proven that we are not there yet," Ayla squeezed her cousin.
"I think that is what we all want but first this soldier is in need of some sustenance," Khalil said.
"A man after my own heart. Amir has whipped up a little lunch for us. He has become the wonderful chef that Mr. Samuels always knew he could," Fiyero smiled and shook the Captain's hand.
"Mr. Samuels was a good man. I was sorry to hear of his passing last year," Khalil told him.
"His family appreciated the gifts you sent believe me," the Prince said as he led everyone up and into the Palace. Zara, Isabelle, Semir, and Derya were nowhere in sight and Elphaba promised to fetch them while everyone else sat down to lunch. As the green woman walked down the hall, she spied Chistery outside her daughter's bedroom door. She raised an eyebrow but said nothing. The crafty Flying Monkey signed to her,
Derya is comforting Izzy and perhaps Izzy is comforting Derya. Neither is thrilled with the current arrangement as it is. Elphaba nodded. That information wasn't exactly new but there was a look on Chistery's face that made her stop before knocking on the door. She didn't need any explanation when she heard the characteristic sound of vomiting. Not bothering to ask, Elphaba rushed in to find that Zara and Izzy had managed to get Derya into the bathroom before anything hit the floor.
"What happened?" Elphaba asked.
"Derya is very upset and I can't say as I blame her. She's very worked up and all the crying just let to her needing to get rid of it," Semir explained. It was times like these she was glad that her son had been blessed with her brain and his father's good looks. Right now, he seemed to be the cooler head though she could tell that just below the surface he was ready to explode. Isabelle was his best friend and he would protect her like he would his sister so everything that was going on was making him angry.
"I think she just needs a few minutes and she'll be ok. Apparently things at home have been awkward since the announcement and it all came tumbling out. Adem is pissed, her parents are not as thrilled as they mentioned in their note, and Derya has been miserable," Zara explained.
"Why don't I have Chistery fetch her something to settle her stomach and then we leave the two of them alone for a little bit? I think they could use some time to themselves," Elphaba suggested.
"Good idea," Zara smiled and gave her mother a hug before leading her brother out of the room. Elphaba quickly told Chistery they needed some mint tea and some crackers and he took off. The Princess quickly headed into the bathroom to check on the two teenagers.
"How are you two?" She asked.
"Oh Aunt Elphaba, I'm so sorry," Derya started apologizing.
"For what? Everyone has had a lot of emotional stuff going on. There is nothing to apologize for. We will get this sorted, I promise. Just know that both of you are welcome to stay here with us, if you so choose. Now since I can't get a straight answer out of anyone, I just have one question for you. What triggered this sudden turn of events? I know that you two have been you since you were born but I'm guessing Lady Glinda didn't just try to marry Bart off just because," the green woman said.
"It's my fault. I wasn't careful and I kissed Izzy in public," Derya heaved a sigh.
"We were celebrating her getting into Shiz," Izzy explained. While both girls were only fourteen, early acceptance for Shiz was sixteen for special students. Derya was very smart and had magical talent which had made her eligible. While Elphaba had wished that Zara had applied to Shiz, her daughter had not wanted to go there. She'd been coy about attending college and it was something that they had been meaning to discuss.
"That is a big accomplishment. You think someone saw you?" Elphaba wondered.
"They must have otherwise I'm not sure how our parents would have found out," Derya admitted.
"I appreciate the ammunition girls. Chistery is bringing tea, you two just relax here and I'll have lunch sent up. Then I will deal with your parents," the Princess smirked before hugging them both. She was about to head out of the room when the unmistakable sound of Bonescraper's voice boomed through the Palace walls.
"Princess! Troops approaching from the direction of Gillikin!" He announced.
Chapter 8: Chapter 8
Everyone hurried to the Palace Walls, concerned as to why their neighbor would be sending troops into the Vinkus. Bonescraper had taken to the skies to make sure those approaching knew he was there. It might be enough to scare them off of whatever half-cocked scheme they were going to try. The troops kept coming however, so he flew back to the Palace.
"They are at least an hour out. Since you did not receive warning that they were coming, I would suggest sounding general alarm. I will post myself between you and them," the dragon told Elphaba.
"Excellent advice and thank you Bonescraper," Elphaba smiled at him before he headed down to the road. The green woman signaled to Lieutenant Bahram and the soldier nodded before ordering the men further down the wall to ring the bell in the tower. The bell rang loudly and clearly and troops came scrambling out of the barracks. The walls surrounding the Palace were soon full of soldiers armed and ready. The lower town was evacuated to inside the safety of the walls and everyone worked to get all civilians sheltered inside the Palace.
"What could the Gillikin want with us?" Fiyero asked his wife as they stood at the wall. He had his trusty rifle and she had her broom. The children had been sent inside for their safety with the exception of Adem, who as the oldest, refused to leave his father's side. The lower town was completely evacuated and everyone was secured. It would be only minutes before Bonescraper encountered the first soldier.
"Fact of the matter is we don't know how Glinda and Balfour found out about Izzy. If we knew that, then perhaps we would know why our supposed ally sent troops in our general direction," Elphaba said.
"I highly doubt this has anything to do with the girls. If it did, Ozma would have sent a letter telling her that the Emerald City was marching on the Palace. We all know how most Ozians think about anyone or anything different than what they view as normal," he pointed out.
"Well at last check we hadn't pissed them off so what else could it be?" She asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine. They'd have to be stupid to try and launch an attack with Bonescraper out there," Fiyero shook his head.
"But if it were a diplomatic mission then they'd have written. Your folks didn't mention a letter or messenger," Elphaba pointed out. Before he could answer, former Lieutenant Ash arrived at the royal couples' side.
"Lieutenant, you should be with the civilians. Attempting to enjoy your retirement," the green woman said.
"I'm bored. Mind if I join the party?" He was honest and Fiyero couldn't help but chuckle.
"We could always use one more. Bored huh?" The Prince asked.
"Well that and I figured I'd check and see how bad Bahram has been screwing stuff up," Ash smirked.
"I heard that you old coot!" Bahram shouted from a few feet away.
"He hasn't done any more damage than usual," Chistery joked from his spot above on the higher parapet of the tower where they kept the pitch for pouring over the walls.
"Oh I see how it is. Just you two wait," Bahram pretended to be wounded.
"Good to know we can still joke at a time like this," Elphaba chuckled.
"Well we don't even know what this is so I suppose it helps ease the tension," Fiyero smirked. That's when they heard it,
"Stand down troops of the Vinkus! Lord Arduenna approaches!" It was Bonescraper. Lieutenant Bahram looked to the King and Queen who stood to his left and they nodded.
"At ease lads and ladies!" Bahram shouted. Quickly, the rifles were slung behind shoulders but no one moved from their position.
"Another entreaty do you suppose?" King Tahir asked his bride.
"I have no idea," Ayla frowned.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9
"I do apologize for the show of force but the men whom I brought with me are loyal to me and at a time like this we need loyalty," Lord Arduenna said to the King and Queen after he and his troops entered the Palace walls.
"You're going to have to clear things up for us. Currently there are too many leaders in one place. People will start talking," King Tahir told him.
"Then it's a good thing Bonescraper is back. Do I want to know why my daughter and her family are here? Along with the Captain and his family?" It was obvious that news of what had transpired had not reached the Gillikin.
"Oh it is a long story but I'm guessing that yours is a long one too," Queen Ayla said.
"And you would be right," Arduenna nodded.
"Ayla, speak to Elphaba and the troops while I get our guest inside. Lieutenant Bahram, see that our allies get a place to sleep and something to eat. I believe we can send the civilians home," Tahir turned his attention to the two who stood next him.
"Yes your Highness," Bahram bowed and then quickly took off to handle what his King wished. Ayla gave her husband a smile and then headed to Elphaba and Fiyero.
"What's going on Mother?" Her son asked.
"We're not entirely sure just yet. Lieutenant Ash, I know you're retired but could you assist Lieutenant Bahram? The troops are to remain heightened at the walls. Right now Bahram is allowing the civilians to go home but something tells me that things are not well in the Gillikin," Ayla said.
"Of course your Highness, anything you need," Ash bowed and then whistled up to Chistery who came down off the higher parapet. Ash filled him in and then the two went about securing the walls.
"What do you need from me, your Highness?" Bonescraper asked.
"We will need security in all directions. Can you use your mighty wings and see if anyone approaches from any direction? It may do the rest of Oz some good to know you're back," Ayla winked.
"Yes your Highness," he smiled and then took to the skies.
"Ok, now that we got that all settled…" Elphaba gave her mother-in-law a look.
"Whatever Lord Arduenna wishes to speak about he mentioned that the troops were loyal to him and that loyalty was needed in times like these," Ayla said.
"Oh that can't be good," Fiyero frowned.
"I would agree. You think something political is going on inside Gillikin?" Elphaba wondered.
"Well he was surprised to see his relatives here along with Captain Khalil and his relatives so I would say, the announcement of Bartholomew's engagement has not reached him or the rest of the Gillikin," Ayla let them know.
"We had better get to the bottom of this and fast," Elphaba nodded. The Queen agreed and the three quickly headed inside. Once there they were directed to the King's study.
"So what is going on that caused you to travel so far and bring troops with you which could have started a war?" Tahir asked. Elphaba was listening but she was also watching Glinda. The blonde was decidedly uncomfortable and she had noticed that the daddy's girl had yet to say anything to her father. Arduenna swallowed hard, as if he couldn't figure out how to say what he needed to say.
"Out with it man!" Ayla's patience was waning.
"King Joe is dead and Queen Hyacinth is missing and no one knows how that could be," he finally said.