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XVII - No Place Like Home…and Oz

Princess Dorothy’s eyebrow quirked in curiosity. “Two rituals?”

Glinda nodded, smiling as she sipped from a cup of tea in the beautiful personal quarters of her own Royal Palace in the southern Quadling Country. “One was performed by the Princess Ozma to reverse the Yookoohoo enchantment laid upon you, Dorothy. Your bunny form has been conferred upon Plummage Bratprince, who is currently being trained in the duties of a seamstress in Bunnybury.”

Dorothy blinked in surprise. “Wow!”

“Least he’s not in Byzantia.” Wendy mused.

Glinda turned to the Texas girl, who was now wearing a comfortable green blouse, and black slacks. “I personally attended to your restoration, Wendy. The nature of powerful Yookoohoo enchantments is such that any form anyone is changed into cannot be undone through most means of magical restoration. One would need to be very, very powerful in the use of sorcery to be able to pass one’s transformation unto another, while restoring the form the affected person previously held. After everything you had done for Bunnybury…a domain I deeply care for, I might add…I felt you deserved the effort.”

Wendy smiled meekly, remembering what Ozma had told her days before. “Thank you, Glinda.”

“Serves that mean ol’ Yookoohoo right t’ become th’ mouse maid you used t’ be, Wendy!” Dorothy remarked.

“What about Malvagia’s magic, Glinda?” Wendy asked.

“If a Yookoohoo becomes the recipient of an alteration inflicted by another, that Yookoohoo permanently loses his or her transformation powers.” Glinda answered. “I assure you that Malvagia will cause no further trouble, and I hope she learns a valuable lesson in humility through her current situation.” Glinda then placed a hand upon the shoulder of the young princess from Kansas. “The Sawhorse is waiting for you outside, Dorothy. I believe you had wanted to return home? Ozma is ready to see to that.”

Dorothy nodded, smiling. She then turned to Wendy, stepping up to her. “Thanks so much for rescuin’ me, Wendy.” The two girls once again hugged tightly. “Are you goin’ back home too?” She then asked.

“Well…there’s someone I need t’ see first.” Wendy replied. She then kissed the younger girl’s forehead. “I hope I see you again sometime!”

“I hope so too!” Dorothy responded as she stepped towards the room’s exit. “G’bye, Wendy! G’bye, Glinda!”

Wendy and Glinda waved sweetly to the Kansas girl as Dorothy made her way back outside, where the Red Wagon…pulled by a single wooden steed called the Sawhorse, who closely resembled his namesake save for his equine features…waited for her.

Glinda then turned to Wendy Wylie. “Perhaps you can wait until the morning to say your goodbyes to Minerva, Wendy? We can easily arrange to have you stay here for the evening.”

After a moment of thought, Wendy nodded. “I’d like that, Glinda. Thank you.”

Glinda smiled. “Your room has already been prepared. The handmaiden outside my quarters will guide you to it.”

Wendy nodded again and began walking towards the exit. A thought occurred to her, and she stopped before reaching the door, turning back to the Good Witch of the South.

“Glinda…” Wendy hesitantly began. “…is Minerva in any trouble? I mean…has she done anythin’ wrong?”

Glinda looked puzzled. “Why would you think this, dear?”

“Well…after what she did t’ me. Her makin’ me a bunny girl an’ all.” Wendy answered.

“Ahh, yes…well, I’m sure you were told how I feel about unwanted alterations.” Glinda explained. “More often than not, such magic is used out of malice or to wicked ends, as Malvagia and Plummage had attempted. Minerva, on the other hand…well, she doesn’t cause too much trouble, and as much as she likes to think I don’t know about her, shall we say, questionable habits, ways, and means, she is certainly not as wicked as a certain pair of ambitiously evil witches our mutual friend from Kansas had dealt with not too long ago.”

“I like her, though.” Wendy softly admitted. “I…like workin’ for her.”

Glinda smiled. “I suppose, then, you would fit right in with the people of Oz, Wendy, most of whom work quite willingly without any conscious desire for compensation. Assuming, of course, that you wished to remain with us, rather than go back home?”

Wendy couldn’t answer that particular question. She just lowered her head quietly.

“Do you miss your foster parents, Wendy?”

The Texas girl remained silent.

“Do you think they miss you?” Glinda tenderly added.

Wendy knew that Glinda’s heart was in the right place when she asked, but she just didn’t have the words for people who were essentially good, but at the same time, neglectful. Caring more for the farm business than Wendy herself. Often leaving Wendy alone to watch over the farm, as they had done before Wendy chased the bunny thief who had led her to the sinkhole that took her to this perilous, but amazing realm.

Glinda gently placed a hand upon the Texas girl’s right cheek as she raised her head up. “If these are subjects you do not wish to discuss, I’ll completely understand, Wendy.”

“I’m sorry, Glinda.” Wendy finally replied. “I guess…I jus’ need t’ get some sleep.”

A smile once again appeared on Glinda’s lips. “Of course, dear.” She then rose to her feet. “In answer to your question, though? I think I should not have to worry about her, but that would be dependent on one thing.”

Wendy rose from her seat, looking curiously to Glinda. “What?”

Glinda was about to reply to this, but she stopped herself and shook her head. “Please…leave that for me to consider. We can talk about it again in the morning, if you wish.”

The Good Witch of the South then led a yawning Wendy to the waiting handmaiden outside, who guided the Texas girl to a very beautiful guest bedroom, within which was a very comfortable-looking bed with red and white silk sheets covering the soft mattresses and the plush pillow. A red and white quilt comforter was perfectly arranged upon the upper mattress. The entire room looked well-kept and brand new, as if Wendy was its very first guest.

Changing into the red silk nightclothes that had been left out for her, which fit perfectly, Wendy slipped under the comforters and pulled it over her, settling her head unto the pillow and taking a the deep, relaxing breath that preceded her quick lapse into a long and restful sleep.

It was admittedly difficult for her to dream of wondrous and mystical places, though, seeing as how she was actually in one.

Wendy nevertheless had a dreamless, but invigorating sleep.

Her eyes opened, her body fully rested, at around 6 a.m. the following morning.

There was only one thing on her mind as she dressed in the green outfit she was given at the Emerald City following her restoration. She wanted to return to Minerva Mulch. Even if she was still sleeping, she wanted to at least be there to surprise her when she rose from her slumber.

At the same time, however, she didn’t want to rouse anyone in Glinda’s palace that might still be sleeping.

As quietly as she could, she left her provided quarters and made her way to the palace entrance. Guards, who were among Glinda’s fifty handmaidens, said nothing as Wendy approached the entrance doors.

In fact, they courteously opened the doors to the palace as she neared them. Strange smiles were on both of their faces as Wendy passed them.

The doors slowly swung shut once the Texas girl was outside. Distancing herself from Glinda’s palace, she headed south, remembering that her home was near the edge of a forest.

Penetrating the edge of an expanse of forest she had found, she saw little in the way of active wildlife, and the action she did see was accompanied by voices that were not the sounds of monkeys or squirrels, but of entirely understandable human speech. They seemed to conduct business and personal concerns in much the same way humans did, and one of the foxes in the forest did stop to offer a passing greeting to Wendy, who smiled and nodded back in reply.

Her progress, however, was halted by the presence of a large, hungry-looking black-striped tiger that had spotted her. Wendy remembered that Dorothy was with a similar tiger during Ozma’s birthday celebration.

She had no way of knowing, however, if this was the same one. She did remember that that particular tiger…the Hungry Tiger, as he was called by Dorothy and her friends…had a red bow tied at his tail.

Much to Wendy’s relief, this tiger…who now padded over to her…had that same red bow on his tail.

“You smell familiar.” The Hungry Tiger noted as he stopped in front of Wendy and looked up to her.

“Huh?” Wendy then remembered that she had met the Tiger while she was still a bunny girl. “Oh! Uh…this is what I really look like.”

The Tiger nodded. “Wendy, right?”

“Yup, that’s me.” Wendy replied. “I’m tryin’ t’ find Minerva Mulch’s place. I…I wanna visit her.”

“Touchy witch, that one.” The Tiger remarked. “I’ll have Skitters guide you over.”

Skitters turned out to be a nervous, but well-traveled young squirrel. He agreed to the Tiger’s request, but noted that he did not want to get too close to the cottage, fearing the retribution of its occupant, who he knew to be a witch that did not like to be disturbed.

The journey lasted fifteen uneventful minutes, and the surroundings began to look familiar to the Texas girl, who now seemed entirely anxious to reunite with the witch she had enjoyed serving.

The hardest part, however, would be where she needed to say goodbye. No doubt Ozma wanted to send Wendy back home, after all…and if not Ozma, then certainly Glinda.

“There it is! There it is!” The jumpy squirrel indicated, gesturing towards the entirely familiar cottage, next to which a fresh patch of carrots were ripe and ready to be picked.

“Gotta go! Seeya!” Skitters then disappeared into the woods.

Wendy had to giggle over how cute the little squirrel sounded as he spoke his words, and once he had disappeared from sight, she turned to the cottage and began to approach it.

She figured she could take her time in visiting Minerva, perhaps spend the rest of the morning with her, and then make her way back to the Emerald City after lunch. She already dreaded the notion of having to go back and face the reality of returning to the Texas farmhouse, perhaps to deal with a thorough scolding from her foster parents over her disappearance.

When she was a few feet from the cottage door, it opened wide, and Minerva Mulch stepped out. Her eyes immediately fell on Wendy, who stopped in her tracks. The Texas girl noticed that the bunny witch had a wicker basket in one hand, the empty area of which had a white towel placed flat against the surface.

Wendy offered a meek smile, but Minerva’s face remained neutral as she stared back at the Texas girl who once served her.

A brief moment of silence followed.

Minerva then held the basket out to Wendy.

“They’re ready.” Minerva finally remarked, glancing to the ripe carrots. “Gather them up.”

Wendy hesitantly came forward, taking the basket. Her own expression remained neutral, but deep down inside, she couldn’t help but feel a little excited. “Yes, Miss Minerva.” She softly responded.

Wendy’s attention was entirely on the carrots she carefully pulled from the patch and placed upon the cloth surface of the basket, and so she did not see the slight smile on Minerva’s face as she pulled the door to her cottage shut behind her.

Once Wendy had them all, she went right for the cottage door without any sense of hesitation, going right to the water pump in the kitchen to rinse the soil residue from each and every one of the carrots. She made sure each of the carrots were completely clean, placing them back in the basket once she was done cleaning them, placing the carrots next to each other in a neat arrangement.

“Very good job, Wily Wendy.”

Wendy smiled as she turned to Minerva, who was now standing at the entrance to the kitchen, a slight smile upon her own bunny muzzle.

And one of her hands was behind her back.

Minerva’s free hand took the basket Wendy offered. “So…” Minerva began. “…you obviously missed me enough to want to say goodbye, didn’t you? Before you ran back home?”

Wendy couldn’t help but feel ashamed of herself, lowering her head a little. As much as she didn’t want to say goodbye, she was certain that neither Ozma, nor Glinda, would give her a choice.

“Well?” Minerva firmly added. “Is this what you were intending, Wily Wendy?”

With a sigh, she rose her head back up. “Yeth, Mith Minerva.”

Wendy blinked when she realized that her two front teeth had once again grown large. Her eyes went wide in her comprehension, her now furry hands going to her mouth.

Minerva widened her smile. “I can’t let you go, servant. I honestly can’t. I think both you and I know you’d be so much happier here. Even Ozma…and I suspect even Glinda…understood this.”

Wendy’s eyebrows raised high as her ears began growing long once again, gradually beginning their move to the top of her head. “Y…you talked t’ them?”

“Well, I had to do something while you were away in Bunnybury, yes?” Minerva replied, watching brown and white bunny fur cover Wendy’s skin once more. “Ozma came to see me personally. We talked about you for a good long time before we came to an agreement. I didn’t dare see Glinda, though…I prefer to stay clear of her if at all possible. But, I think if she really felt that you’d be happier back home, you would have risen from your bed in that Texas farmhouse this morning, rather than rise in a bed in the Emerald City.”

“Well, I…mmmh…” Wendy had to pause a moment, as her face was gradually pushing out to the small bunny muzzle she once had, her nose mutating its shape to the manner of anthropomorphic creature she was becoming, and already beginning its habitual bunny wiggle. “…I…came fromm…mmh…came f…from Glinda’th Palath.”

“Oh, really? She must have had more than a few gripes for what I did to you when you first arrived here.” Minerva mused, quickly moving forward to steady her beloved servant as she began to lose balance from the painless alterations her legs were magically going through. In so doing, the bunny witch pulled the rear waistline of her slacks down enough to allow the fluff of her white bunny tail to wiggle out unrestricted, brown fur blooming thickly around it, replacing the bare skin. “Did she say anything much about me, servant? Am I to expect some kind of punishment for what I did?”

Wendy’s ears were now full and fluffy…and floppy…on top of her head, her legs and feet fully digitigrade and her hands padded and furry, as she responded. “She told me that y’ needed one thing b’fore she’d thtop worryin’ ‘bout you.”

“Indeed, Wily Wendy.” Minerva nodded, stepping close enough to her bunny servant to wrap her own furry arms around her, looking tenderly into Wendy’s eyes. “And here you are. The one thing I needed.” The bunny witch tightened her hug, feeling a happy tear fall from her left eye. “Welcome home, Wily Wendy.”

Happy tears welled up in Wendy’s own eyes as she comfortably squeezed Minerva’s own furry torso.

The two furry occupants of Minerva’s cottage lingered the hug for nearly an hour, both of them happy to share the space of the humble cottage on the edge of the Quadling forest once more.

Later that evening, when Wendy once again settled into the bed that had been conjured for her, the bunny servant very much looking forward to the next day’s responsibilities, Minerva decided to sit at her comfortable seat by the inactive fireplace and contemplate the contentment fate had so unexpectedly brought her.

But at the same time, she had to revisit a previously-pondered mystery.

How was it that Minerva deserved Wendy?

Her mind drifted back to a past confrontation with Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, following the tragedy that followed her banishment from Bunnybury. She figured she would never again revisit the circumstances arising from that banishment.

In this moment…and just this once…she did.

During the respective tyrannies of the wicked witches in the east and the west lands, Minerva Mulch had a young daughter, who for the fact that she raised her in the southern lands and therefore benefitting from the protection of Glinda the Good, Minerva never imagined Lindsey Mulch would ever find herself in mortal danger.

Minerva, however, eventually accepted Lindsey’s repeated requests to teach her witchcraft, not realizing why.

Plummage was, of course, the reason both Minerva and Lindsey were exposed and banished, but it was Lindsey who realized that Plummage was in collusion with the Wicked Witch of the East.

However, the headstrong Lindsey’s well-meaning…and quite insistent…efforts to try and challenge the East Witch, in defiant response to their banishment, were tragically short-lived.

Although ultimately, Dorothy’s unexpected defeat of the East Witch denied Minerva the vengeance she never thought she had enough power to even attempt, Glinda made no secret of her sympathy towards Minerva for the void in the bunny witch’s soul inflicted by Lindsey’s passing.

And like Wendy, Lindsey enjoyed attending to her mother’s comforts. Enjoyed waiting on her hand and foot. Lindsey had no shame in being called her mother’s servant, even if Minerva would never dare call her own daughter such.

Glinda, however, had hinted at what fate eventually brought her. Truly, Wendy was the “one thing” the Good Witch of the South had cryptically mentioned.

And this one thing…Wily Wendy…had been essentially instrumental in avenging Lindsey’s death through the failure of Plummage’s conspiracy. The now former Chamberlain who had arranged for not only Minerva’s banishment, but Lindsey’s as well. The King had lifted the banishment out of sympathy for the grieving bunny witch when he learned of her daughter’s demise, but by then, Minerva chose never to return as a permanent resident of Bunnybury.

Rising from her chair, Minerva slowly and silently walked over to the room she had given Wendy, and lingered her gaze upon her bunny servant as she soundly slept.

A smile slowly formed on Minerva’s face as she continued to watch her sleep.

Before she retired to her own bed, however, she silently spoke to Wendy, the statements coming straight from her mended heart.

“Sweet dreams, Wily Wendy.” She gently remarked. “I love you.”

She feared those last three words would be difficult to openly admit, but the words came forth all too easily.

And she meant every word of it.

* * *

Glinda, entirely aware that Wendy slipped out of her palace on her own, consulted the Great Book of Records. Ozma went to the Magic Picture that morning, purely out of curiosity.

They both learned that Wendy was quick to resume the work Minerva had been tasking her bunny girl servant with, and they enjoyed a delicious breakfast Wendy had cooked up. Afterwards, Wendy sat with Minerva and shared all her adventures since the bunny witch had left her in the Emerald City, telling Minerva about the conspiracy, about the Yookoohoo, and about the thankfully short time she spent serving Malvagia. Logically, she went into her efforts to help restore the King to his rightful place at the throne, and the rescue of Dorothy Gale from her ‘puppet’ predicament.

“See?” Minerva mused, once her servant finished the story. “I knew there was a reason I called you Wily Wendy!”

Smiling with content over these occurrences, and relieved to see that everyone was happy once more, Glinda closed the Great Book of Records, and the princess Ozma neutralized the image in the Magic Picture.

And though it might seem odd to some, Minerva Mulch and Wily Wendy were themselves very much content from that point on. Minerva had her servant…and, in her own way, a daughter, for she considered her acceptance of Wendy as much an adoption as the real world would see it…and Wendy, who was now back in the servant’s outfit Minerva had given her when she first changed the Texas girl, found happiness living with someone she was entirely happy to serve. They had their own adventures in and around the land of Oz from time to time, and those only served to strengthen the bond of love and affection between them.

Both Glinda and Ozma were also curious, however, to find out how Wendy’s foster parents had reacted to her disappearance, and so consulted their respective means of scrying upon them.

Glinda read of how the Waldens had assumed that Wendy had run away, and neither of them found any trace of the sinkhole that had swallowed her up. Beyond this rationale, they made no effort to find out where Wendy had gone.

They had quite simply moved on with their lives in spite of Wendy’s departure.

Although both Glinda and Ozma found this somewhat casual disregard for the life of a young girl they had been entrusted to raising quite outrageous, they were at least content that Wendy Wylie was happy in her new life alongside Minerva Mulch…

…who, for the fact that she had a heroine of Bunnybury and a savior of Princess Dorothy Gale willingly and happily serving her, could now truly be considered the Proud Witch of Oz.

~ T H E  E N D ~
XV - Poetic Justice

Now the ‘prison’ Ozma had mentioned was certainly not a prison in the real world sense, as the room in which Plummage was confined that evening was hardly a dark and unpleasant dungeon, nor were there manacles of any sort. In fact, the prison beneath the Emerald City’s royal palace was as pleasant as any given Living Room, although the only door leading into the room was under constant watch by the mentioned Royal Army of Oz, a single soldier with very long green facial hair named Omby Amby.

As much as the accommodations were surprisingly pleasant, Plummage was nevertheless quite impatient as he stepped up to the barred hole in the prison door. “How long am I to stay here, exactly??” He growled irritably.

“Strict instructions of the Princess.” Omby sternly replied. “You are to remain confined here until the ritual is over.”

“And how long is that supposed to…” Plummage blinked, stopping himself for a moment. His eyes then boggled with dread. “…wait a minute. Did…did you say ritual?”

At this, however, Plummage noticed that there was no longer fur on his arms! Feeling at his face, he felt a human shape rather than the fuzzy muzzle of the bunny he was supposed to be.

And after spending many long years in the form of a bunny, the only son of the Wicked Witch of the East…who was just as deviously wicked as his late mother…was back in his human form!

But he then felt more changes happening as his stomach began to slowly expand…

* * *

Dorothy and Wendy had been instructed to wait in Ozma’s boudoir. No one aside from herself, the Scarecrow, and the Emerald City’s maid Jellia Jamb were aware of their presence in the Royal Palace. Everyone else in the City had assumed that Dorothy had been sent back home to Kansas. Jellia was made aware so she could provide them both with food as they waited for the moment in which Ozma would attempt the “trick” she had mentioned.

Logically, Dorothy had been given fresh carrots, and Wendy a generously-sized wheel of cheese. Despite themselves, however, they chose to leave the offerings untouched. They didn’t want to be reminded that they would need to remain in their forms for the rest of their lives.

Strangely, however, Jellia didn’t seem very upset over what had happened to the girls. In fact, she had a strange smile on her face when they refused the meals the Emerald City maid had brought them.

“Thith trick ith gonna be tried tonight, right?” Wendy asked.

Jellia, who was still smiling, arched an eyebrow. “The ritual has already begun.”

Wendy turned her head to Dorothy, whose bunny teeth were already beginning to recede, along with the bunny muzzle of her face, and the fur all over her body. The pink hair on her head changed color until it was blond once more, and her ears shrank and settled to their previous places on her gradually-restoring head.

Dorothy gasped in disbelief as she continued to make the gradual and entirely painless transition from a fat, pink-haired bunny girl to the slim human Princess she once was. The front pads of her feet shrank back towards the heels of her young feet, and the cute fluff of her bunny tail shrank out of existence. Her mass decreased significantly, too, and after a few moments, the fully-restored Dorothy Gale let out a heavy sigh of relief despite the fact that she was wearing a royal gown that was entirely too big for her restored human frame.

As the boudoir was not too far away from the ‘prison’ Plummage had been placed in, Dorothy, Wendy, and Jellia all heard a faint but horrible female scream.

“Who was that??” Wendy asked…and with that inquiry alone, she too gasped in surprise, realizing that the lisp was now gone.

Her own mouse teeth were human again, and she gazed upon her arms with wide eyes as her large ears began to gradually shrink. The gray fur on her arms were receding into her skin! Her mouse tail shrank, and her small mouse muzzle dissolved, the nose now looking fully human.

The two relieved girls stared upon each other as Wendy’s mouse features continued to recede and dissolve…painlessly, of course…until she had been fully reverted back to that of the young human girl from Texas she once was. Once both girls had fully regained their human appearances, Jellia beamed a huge smile.

“I think you’re both ready to have a meal that’s a little more…human?” Jellia mused.

Dorothy couldn’t help but giggle as the three young women embraced each other tightly…

…although while Wendy was happy for the moment, a part of her wondered if Ozma was going to send her back home to Texas.

She hoped the fairy princess would at least allow her to say goodbye to Minerva Mulch first.

Another matter was on the minds of both girls, too, as they pulled away from the hug and thereafter followed Jellia Jamb to the Royal Palace’s dining room.

Wendy was the first to voice it. “What about…”

“Plummage and Malvagia?” Jellia accurately guessed. “Well…have either of you ever heard the phrase ‘let the punishment fit the crime’?”

* * *

“Now I realize that you have been through a rather difficult experience, dear.” The Queen of the Field Mice began, her eyes fixed upon the properly-uniformed mouse servant kneeling before her. “But I’d like to think of this as the perfect exercise of your situation. You will be watched, and your progress will be reviewed with every task I set before you, and there will be a great many of them. Should you fail in any of these duties, conveniences will be temporarily withheld until such a time that you can clarify your shortcomings. You are not to look upon me, nor are you to stand while in my presence unless you are specifically asked to. You will of course be given the fair benefit of training in your first few weeks among us, but you will be tested upon your knowledge. Are we understood so far, maid?”

“Yes, hyu highnaz.” Malvagia replied.

* * *

Plummage Bratprince…or as she was now called, Plumlie…found her increased weight difficult to manage in her first few days as she humiliatingly walked through the streets of Bunnybury. With no royal title at all, she was nothing more than a common citizen, as per the request of Glinda the Good herself, who had arranged for the two rituals…which doubled as punishments for both Plummage and Malvagia…to take place.

Owing to the King’s fairness and grace, Plumlie was given a job opportunity within one of the many businesses at Bunnybury. One that she herself…as the man she once was…had some background with.

Only the King, however, knew that Plumlie was once the Chamberlain who had himself directed the seamstresses to create all those exquisite outfits.

The field mouse, Rosie, was tasked to become part of a small but very talented group of bunnies and mice to the land of Byzantia, where they would begin a grand adventure which would ultimately end the unfair treatment being inflicted on the field mice of that fairyland. By the time they returned to Oz, Rosie had become quite the accomplished planner and tactician, and the Queen of the Field Mice awarded Rosie with a beautiful gold medal for her accomplishments.

During her amazing exploits in Byzantia(which, admittedly, is a story in and of itself!), she was in close contact with the King’s newly-ordained High Chamberlain, who turned out to be a wizardly sort himself, and although he was not a Yookoohoo, he was nevertheless quite talented with personal transformations. This scholarly bunny…the very same Bunnybury gent who educated Wendy at the dinner party at Le Gourmet de Lapin…secretly led a double life in the form of a field mouse whose personality was radically different from his more erudite natural guise. It should be noted, too, that both the Bunnybury King and the Queen of the Field Mice were the only ones aware of this bunny scholar’s double life.

Among the bunnies of Bunnybury, he was known as Professor Parable.

Among the field mice, he was the tough, streetwise mouse known only as Dodge.
XIV - The Jig Is Up!

Although Plummage had to deal with the fact that his puppet was not a model of pure diction, his plan was proceeding well. Priss had the majority of the mobs more or less loyal to her. The only problem he could foresee was to get Glinda to agree to what he would pitch as the “people’s choice”, rather than her choice. The Chamberlain was confident that the Good Witch of the South would at least see the logic in that.

He watched Priss dote upon her new followers as they moved into the palace’s throne room. She was paying particular heed to the younger bunnies, although Priss did not say much. Plummage, after all, had conditioned her to simply smile and posture as cordially as she could towards the people, but she was not to say much beyond answering any ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions the Chamberlain had deemed safe enough to answer directly.

Plummage led his puppet to the throne seat, gesturing for her to sit upon it. With an empty smile, Priss made the attempt to sit upon it…

…but found that her body was a little too wide for the seat. She could not settle into it comfortably at all, much to Plummage’s irritation.

Priss shrugged, her smile still on her face. “I gueth I’ll jutht have to thtand!”

The Chamberlain sighed. “For the moment, yes. We can easily have that fixed, though.”

“What about the problems in Byzantia?” A female voice then cried out. “Will they be fixed too?”

Plummage spoke irritably in response. “That is a matter for the field mice, not Bunnybury! Whatever happens in Byzantia, stays in Byzantia. There will be no…”

“Why can’t I hear it from the new Queen herself?” Rosie wrestled her way through the crowds to confront Plummage and Priss, a very determined look on her mouse face as her eyes met those of the plump bunny girl. “Your majesty, I beg you…thousands of field mice are being oppressed routinely by the bunnies of Byzantia. We cannot just stand idly by and allow them to be treated so badly!”

A disgruntled male voice shouted his contrary opinion. “What should we care? They’re mice, we’re bunnies! That’s not a bunny matter! Go tell the Queen of the Field Mice!”

A teenage boy then offered a sternly-worded rebuttal. “Have you seen how they treat those mice??”

An older female bunny added her own opinion, looking to Priss. “It’s a serious-enough matter! Maybe we should help in some way!”

Other voices within the mob seemed to support this suggestion. Plummage, however, raised his arms in restraint. “That would be a waste of precious resources! Besides…we are in the middle of the need for regime change! The King has left us for no good reason! We must install an heir, and the King has no sons or daughters to inherit his status! He hasn’t even married!”

Rosie put her furry front paws to her hips. “As I said before…I want to hear the opinion of the one you clearly wish to install upon the throne. If she agrees, I can guarantee you a considerable amount of support for her rulership from the field mice.”

Again, Plummage tried to deflect the issue. “This is terrible timing! Can this not wait until this exceptionally charismatic bunny has been officially ordained our new ruler?”

“I think we should help!” Priss then chimed. “Bunnieth…mith…we all have a voith!” She then looked to Plummage. “Right?”

The Chamberlain began to wonder if the effect of his tainted carrots was beginning to weaken. She only had the one carrot in the morning, and it was past the time when Priss needed to be fed another for lunch.

Further, last he had checked, he only had two tainted carrots left.

“Priss…” Plummage replied unto his puppet, trying to remain calm. “…we must focus on…”

Rosie, however, latched on to this advantage she had just gained as she directed her next words to the crowds. “THERE! Straight from the mouth of your new Queen!” She then turned back to Plummage. “Details! Your new Queen has spoken!”

At this, a flurry of wild arguing between those who supported and those who opposed the stated issue quickly raged out of control as Plummage fruitlessly attempted to calm the shouting masses.

Rosie’s plan was working perfectly so far, and just about everyone in the bunny crowds gathering to hear Priss’s speech was in on it. They flurried thickly around Plummage, mock-arguing in a particularly heated fashion and drowning out his protests and his hollered requests to stop while Rosie made her way towards the wide-bodied bunny girl, who simply stood in one place and looked as if she were awaiting instructions.

Rosie hooked her arm and began moving her away from the throne room. Priss looked alarmed at this. “Hey! Where are we going?”

“Just follow me, dear.” Rosie replied, still hurrying Priss along.

The bunny woman guided Priss to a back door of the palace which led into a lush and beautiful garden area, where two individuals stood waiting for them both.

“Are we gonna eat thoon?” Priss asked as they approached. “I’m getting hungry.”

Rosie stopped the chubby, pink-haired bunny girl in front of a tough-looking male mouse, and a grimy, grey-furred mouse girl wearing a stained and torn maid outfit. “I wanted to show you one of them, dear.” Rosie explained to the now curious-looking Priss as she gestured towards the grey-furred maid. “This is one of the mice of Byzantia. As you can see, she has been forced into the role of a maidservant, and she has been in the service of one of our byzantian visitors.”

The mouse maid pulled the white cloth off of her head, revealing her large and round mouse ears. The maid looked to Priss timidly as the regally-dressed bunny girl smiled back to her. “Hello, dear…my name ith Prith. Who are you?”

The mouse maid remained quiet, glancing to Rosie meekly.

So far, so good, Wendy thought to herself. ‘Priss’ was sold on the illusion Rosie and Dodge helped Wendy to achieve at the mouse maid’s request, both with Rosie’s makeup tricks and in the rough-looking tears Dodge inflicted on Wendy’s maid outfit.

“You see? For all the terrible treatment this maid has received at the hands of her byzantian tormentor, she is afraid to even speak!” Rosie explained. “Something clearly needs to be done to end this oppression!”

Priss looked entirely unsure of this, particularly since this was not coming from Plummage.

But then, the mouse maid gently smiled, and produced a carrot from a pocket of her maid uniform, offering it to the pink-haired bunny girl.

“See? She is making a charitable offering on behalf of her fellow byzantian field mice!” Rosie remarked, smiling as she gestured to the offered carrot. “It looks delicious, too, doesn’t it?’

The fat bunny girl’s eyes widened hungrily, and she immediately took the carrot and began devouring it.

By the time the carrot had been eaten all the way to its short green stem, a heavy, impenetrable cloud deep within the psyche of the pink-haired bunny girl gradually evaporated, and she blinked confusedly in that moment as Rosie and the mouse maid watched her curiously.

Dorothy Gale then shook her head, as if coming out of a daze. “Whuh…w…where am I?” She then looked down at herself, reacting in shock “Aaaah! What happen’d t’ me?? Why…why am I tho fat??”

Wendy had to drop the ruse. “The thame thing that happen’d t’ me, Dor’thy. We were changed by a Yookoohoo. You altho ate carroth that put you und’r a thpell. Plummage wanted to uth you to become the new ruler of Bunnybury.”

With Dorothy’s mind freed from the effect of Plummage’s tainted carrots, she was able to pick up on the voice. “Wendy? Ith that you??”

Wendy nodded, looking entirely embarrassed as she lowered her head.

Rosie, on the other hand, now looked entirely mystified, as did Dodge. Tainted carrots? Yookoohoo? Wendy? “Uhhh…excuse me?” Rosie’s face, frowning in confusion, looked to Wendy. “You told me your name was…”

“Louhi, I know.” Wendy replied. “My real name ith Wendy. Before y’ say anythin’, give me a chanth to exthplain.”

Wendy then explained the whole situation to Rosie and Dodge. She explained how they had both been compelled to follow Plummage into Bunnybury following Ozma’s birthday celebration. She explained that they were both human girls changed by the byzantian Yookoohoo, and she explained to Rosie, Dodge, and Dorothy about the unbreakable nature of the Yookoohoo magic she and Dorothy had been subjected to.

“Heh…I knew dat accent a’yours wasn’t bye-zantian.” Dodge mused.

Dorothy looked down upon her wide, furry body with a sense of sheer dread. “Y…y’mean…I gotta stay like thith??”

Wendy nodded lamentedly. “I’m thorry, Dor’thy.”

“But…I can’t go back home lookin’ like thith!” Dorothy whined. “What’re we gonna do, Wendy?”

“How’s about we puts a stop ta Plummage?” Dodge offered.

Rosie nodded. “I agree. Plummage had to be the reason why the King abandoned Bunnybury.”

“He mutht have uthed the thame carroth he fed t’ me.” Dorothy surmised.

Wendy nodded in confirmation. “We’ve gotta bring him back.”

“Aaaand…how were you going to go about doing this?”

All of their heads turned in the direction of the familiar voice. It was indeed the insidious conspirator, Plummage Bratprince. Standing at his side was the Yookoohoo, Malvagia. Both of them had menacing expressions on their furry faces.

“Hyu not get avay zees time, mousey.” Malvagia malevolently remarked.

“I don’t know how it was that you were able to break the effect provided by my carrots, Dorothy…” The Chamberlain pulled out his box of carrots, pulling one of his last two. “…but unless you want me to have you all imprisoned on the charge of treason…”

“If anyone is to be branded a traitor, Plummage…” Another new voice, which everyone recognized. “…it is you!”

All heads turned to see the King of Bunnybury scowling upon the High Chamberlain. Standing beside him was another bunny, who Wendy and Malvagia recognized to be the very same bunny who had publicly requested an impromptu dance from the byzantian Yookoohoo.

But as their eyes fell upon this particular bunny, they saw her form slowly shift from that of a bunny to the form of a very beautiful young girl, who Dorothy immediately recognized to be the Princess Ozma. Behind Ozma and the King were a crowd of bunny citizens, all of them looking to Plummage accusingly.

“Malvie…” Plummage angled his head to the olive-furred Yookoohoo. “…reduce the forms of those two meddlesome brats behind us to disgusting slugs.”

But Malvagia was now frozen with fear, now that the bunny next to the King revealed herself to be the fairy princess of Oz. “Da…da Ohz-maaa…” She fearfully whispered. “…Ohz-ma zeee ev’ryzeenk!”

“Well, well, well.” Ozma quirked an eyebrow as she looked to the byzantian dancer. “I thought I told you to stay out of trouble, Malvagia.”

Malvagia pointed a furry finger to Plummage. “Nasta-ma-Plummash! He make me help!”

The Chamberlain frowned in confusion as he kept his gaze on the King. “How did you…”

“Glinda, of course.” The King replied. “You only told me to leave Bunnybury. You never said anything about avoiding the Good Witch of the South. You never were very good at thinking these things through, Chamberlain!”

“Why don’t you share the real reason for this conspiracy with us, Plummage?” Ozma then remarked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” The Chamberlain replied. “Our King is pathetic. He doesn’t even have a wife, nor does he have an heir. He doesn’t even like being a King. He told me this himself!”

“Oh, I think there’s more to it than just that.” Ozma mused.

“I tole hyu, nasta-ma-Plummash…” The olive-furred Yookoohoo turned to the treacherous Chamberlain, tugging at his arm in desperation. “…Ohz-maa all-knoweenk!”

“Glinda had been wondering when the only son of the Wicked Witch of the East would make a play for power.” Ozma then revealed, her eyes on Plummage. “Awfully daring of you to lay the groundwork of your attempt in the domain of her worst enemy.”

Both Rosie and Dodge had their eyes on Malvagia the entire time. They knew that at some point, she’d try something sneaky. It was at this point that the Yookoohoo made a desperate lunge for Wendy…

…but both Rosie and Dodge had grabbed her arms and held them both out to the sides, making sure Malvagia’s hands could not touch them as the byzantian dancer struggled and flailed in their grip. The Yookoohoo gazed hatefully upon Wendy. “HYU ALVAYS BE DEEZ-GUZ-TEENK MOUSEY!!” She roared angrily.

A flash of purple light shone behind the head of the furious bunny dancer as the tip of Ozma’s golden wand touched upon it, and a wave of intense drowsiness overcame the Yookoohoo’s senses in the space of a moment. Her limbs lost all strength, her eyelids fluttered shut, and she dropped upon the ground fast asleep once Rosie and Dodge released her.

The eyes of both Dorothy and Wendy widened when they heard Ozma’s calmly-worded reply.
“I think not.”

Wendy frowned in her disbelief. “But…she thaid her magic wath…”

“Oh yes, Wendy. I’m entirely aware of the kind of power Yookoohoos wield.” Ozma interjected, smiling. “Not easily overcome, right? Well…there’s one little trick we can try, but…I think we should deal with these two criminals first.”

The King walked over to Dorothy, placing a hand sympathetically on the former girl’s furry shoulder. “If it does not work, my dear, your citizenship in Bunnybury will be most assured, should you wish it. I promise you this.”

Dorothy smiled. “Thank you, your highneth.”

The King of Bunnybury then turned to Plummage, who maintained his defiant expression. “As for you…I am stripping you of your status at once! I should also have you banished from Bunnybury for the rest of your life!”

“Your highness…” Ozma calmly interjected. “…before you do that, I wonder if I might borrow Malvagia and Plummage for a time. The former Chamberlain will be locked away in our Royal Palace’s prison, where the Royal Army of Oz will keep his eyes on him at all times. The Yookoohoo, of course, is fast asleep, and should remain so for quite some time.”

The King furrowed his brow curiously, but then nodded in agreement, pointing a finger to the former Chamberlain. “So long as I never see him again.”

“Oh, don’t worry.” Ozma cryptically replied. “You won’t.”

Wendy stepped over to the fairy princess of the land. “Why wath Malvagia tho thcared of you, Othma?”

Ozma smiled in remembrance of her last encounter with the byzantian. “Malvagia once had an unwise interest in becoming the ruler of Oz when she learned that the ruler that she thought was in the seat of power…our Wizard of Oz…was nothing more than a sleight-of-hand trickster, and had no actual magic capabilites.”

“Ah yes, I remember that amusing little story.” The smiling King of Bunnybury added, turning to Wendy. “According to what Glinda told me, that silly byzantian planned to slip in and make a mouse of the Wizard, and then assume control of Oz and make it a province of Byzantia. Unfortunately, no one told that daft Yookoohoo that Ozma here had succeeded him as the land’s ruler!”

“Actually, Oscar chose the Scarecrow to succeed him.” Ozma courteously corrected. “The Scarecrow didn’t like being a King, so he willingly surrendered the throne to me.” The fairy princess then turned back to Wendy. “So Glinda forewarned me about Malvagia’s plan, and I decided to hide behind an illusionary appearance of my own, making the byzantian think I was the Wizard. When I revealed who I really was, and how I had been observing her entire progress using the Magic Picture, she was so paralyzed with fear that Malvagia swore she would never again cause any more trouble, and I permitted her to leave the Emerald City.”

Wendy nodded. “How long ago wath thith?”

“That situation was resolved a day or so before I had traveled to the land of Ev to free their Queen and her children from the Nome King.” Ozma replied.

“Tho are we goin’ back there? To the Em’rald Thity?” The mouse girl then asked.

And in the next moment, Wendy, Ozma, and Dorothy were back in Ozma’s boudoir in the Royal Palace of the Emerald City, where the Scarecrow stood before the Magic Picture, watching the bunnies of Bunnybury react in surprise over the sudden disappearance of their outsider friends.

The Scarecrow’s painted face smiled to Wendy. “Does that answer your question, Wendy?”
XIII - Her Royal Highneth

It was one of Plummage’s carrots, fed advantageously to the King in a moment of complete despair out of fear for a no-confidence vote, that finally compelled the Glinda-ordained ruler to abandon Bunnybury after a great many years of his much-appreciated rule. Many of the residents who had supported the King were astonished that he would so casually give his throne up, while those who believed the warnings Plummage and his agents had intentionally spread throughout Bunnybury were not surprised at all.

Either way, there was now an air of uncertainty in and around the whole of the now leaderless domain. Who would Glinda ordain to be the next great ruler of Bunnybury? What kind of leader would this person be?

Plummage’s agents were at least able to plant the rumor…which predicatably spread like wildfire…that the new ruler of Bunnybury would not be a King, but a Queen. The High Chamberlain allowed this much in order to gauge whatever early reactions the rumor might generate.

The Chamberlain found himself fortunate when his agents reported that many of the people were quite encouraging of a female ruler. In fact, most of the more intelligent bunnies who disapproved of the King’s rule had noted that he did not have any real female influence, as the King had never taken a Queen.

Plummage found this notion particularly interesting. He thought about compelling his fat little puppet to mature a bit more in age, and then conveniently have her arrange a marriage with her “humble” Chamberlain.

Wendy made it to the Bunnybury town square in time to pay witness to the public speech an exquisitely-dressed royal aspirant named Priss was sharing with the people of the domain.

The mouse maid, however, knew right away who this royal aspirant really was as Priss lisped her way through her speech.

Wendy could not escape the fearful possibility that Malvagia, who was no doubt still trying to find her escaped mouse maid, would spot her within the crowd. Maybe grab her from behind. Unfortunately, she had no choice but to stay low in her posture and not draw any attention to herself until Dodge found an unnoticeable way into the palace.

The mouse maid fished a furry, clawed hand into the area where the carrot Minerva gave her was, confirming it was still there. The attentions of the masses of bunnies were on Priss, so she was capably concealed by the mobs for the moment. Priss was earning herself a fair share of cheers, and most of them were loud. The expression on the wide-bodied bunny’s face, however, looked a little empty, and her smiles looked a bit rehearsed. Plummage often glanced to Priss as she spoke, and winced on occasion with every lisp he heard.

“And tho, my good people…” Priss extended her arms out to the sides. “…do I have your thupport? Do I have your trutht? Shall we all thtand thtrong?”

There were more voices crying out in support than there were against. Priss clearly had the majority of the mob, whether the words were truly hers or not.

And Wendy had a feeling they were not, knowing the truth about Plummage.

“Follow me to the Palath!” Priss then announced.

Wendy was able to stay within the shouting mobs as they followed Priss and her small entourage towards the Royal Palace.

A flash of familiar olive fur among the bodies of the masses, however, caught her full attention.

Fortunately, although she was a few paces away, Malvagia had not spotted Wendy. She didn’t even know her mouse maid was close behind her.

Wendy fearfully endeavored to keep it that way as the mobs drifted in the direction of the Royal Palace. Much to the mouse maid’s relief, she was able to evade the byzantian Yookoohoo’s notice once they all arrived at the front of the Palace.

Wendy was also wise enough to grab a piece of dropped white fabric, which she wrapped around her head in a manner which would expose her face, but not her ears. Having seen gray-furred bunnies among the mobs, she hoped the disguise would work if she were spotted skulking around the palace interiors.

Before passing into those interiors, Wendy also buried her long mouse tail within her skirt as well. The pressure of the tail being crushed against the fabric of the skirt was uncomfortable, but she had to try and pass herself off as a bunny rather than the mouse girl she had become.

Malvagia’s head began to turn to Wendy’s direction. The mouse maid froze with fear despite herself.

An arm suddenly hooked one of Wendy’s own arms. The mouse maid’s eyes boggled in terror in the space of that moment, but the familiar voice calmed her as Malvagia’s eyes diverted back to the opposite direction.

“Found a way in, kid.” Dodge quietly assured, pulling Wendy into a shadowy area where they could conceal themselves. “An’ Rosie’s ready ta go.”
XII - The Queen’s Command

Dodge and Rosie led Wendy through a long tunnel, entered through a concealed area of the cellar room the two field mice had brought Wendy into during Malvagia’s dance. The soil passage was apparently created through the efforts of a great many mice, and was large enough for the trio to walk through. Wendy had only eaten about 25% of her cheese wheel, so she still had a whole half left over. Rosie gave her a sack to make the rest of the half-eaten wheel easier to carry.

When they reached a four-way junction area of the apparent tunnel network, Dodge stopped the group and turned to Wendy. “Just so ya know, we gotta take ya ta da Queen. All field mice in da land has ta be presented ta her. Dat’s jus’ da way it is.”

“You’ve nothing to worry about, dear. The Queen is a VERY nice ruler.” Rosie assured. “You should find her to be a just and fair ruler, too. Far more agreeable than that byzantian oppressor, by far.”

Wendy initially considered coming right out with the truth. That she was not really a field mouse and had been altered from the form of a young girl. She stopped herself, though, curious to see what kind of society the field mice had apparently made for themselves. If she played her cards right, she imagined that the Queen might help her liberate Dorothy Gale from her nefarious situation, and expose Plummage Bratprince’s conspiracy.

Wendy also had to admit to herself that the feeling of being a field mouse wasn’t as bad as she might have imagined. It could have been worse. She could have been turned into something far uglier, like a rat.

“So how long have you been serving that dreadful byzantian?” Rosie then asked, repeating her previous inquiry.

Wendy knew she had to be very careful in her words as she replied. “Y’know…it’th been tho long, I…well, y’ kinda looth track o’ time. I…I’m tryin’ t’ forget all of it. I’m real glad y’ rethcued me, though. She wath gonna feed me to a wildcat!”

“OH! How horrible!” Rosie exclaimed. “Honestly…I don’t know how our byzantian kin could ever put up with such oppression!” Rosie then turned to Dodge. “We’ve got to get her to the Queen right away!”

Dodge just nodded, and then gestured to one of the junctions. “Dis way.”

Wendy was at least thankful that they didn’t ask her too many detailed questions as they made their way along two more long tunnels…and two more junctions…before coming onto a large, subterranean cavern.

The area, however, could hardly be considered a mere cavern. The path leading to the white marble-wrought subterranean complex was prefaced by a long red carpet, which was emblazoned in several sections with what turned out to be the Queen’s royal sigil.

And although the sigil was no different in finely-wrought royal detail than most other sigils representing monarchies of the past, Wendy clearly saw indications of mouse heads decorated within the sigil.

Wendy was clearly in awe as she stared around this apparent subterranean castle complex. She had certainly read about castles, but she never imagined she would actually be in one, much less one that was beneath the surface! The complex was a very large one, too. Field mouse guards were all over the place, all of them wearing tabards bearing the same royal sigil as the one she saw on the red carpet. Various rooms, both small and large, could be seen as Dodge and Rosie continued to lead Wendy further into the amazing underground castle.

“Wooow…” Wendy caught herself squeaking the word. “…thith ith a really big cathle!”

“Oh yes, Louhi…about as big as the Emerald City, which is directly above us.” Rosie replied, smiling.

“How long did it take th’ field mith t’ build?”

“Well, the Queen actually started having us all build it sometime after the ruling Wizard of Oz had begun construction on the Emerald City.” Rosie answered. “At the time, she boasted that we could complete our castle before the Emerald City was completed. Unfortunately, we were only halfway done when other field mice had reported that the City was complete, and businesses were beginning to populate it.”

“Yeah…ours was a real dump compared ta what dat Wizard made, too.” Dodge griped.

“Thith plath doethn’t look like a dump!” Wendy noted.

Rosie giggled at this. “That’s because the King of Bunnybury, who learned of our work through friends he had among the field mice, made an appeal to Glinda the Good, who magically advanced our foundations into what you see.”

The trio finally came to a halt in front of a pair of magnificently large doors, which was flanked by two polearm-wielding field mice guards standing at complete attention. Dodge then turned to Wendy. “Awright. Dis is where we gots ta let ya go, Louie. Da Queen oughta give ya someplace ta live an’ woik.”

Wendy blinked. “Jutht…go right in?”

Rosie nodded.

The mouse maid slowly nodded back in acknowledgement. “Okay…thankth tho much for helpin’ me get away from Malvagia.”

Rosie moved forward and kissed Wendy on her gray-furred forehead. “I hope you’ll be very happy living among the field mice of Oz, Louhi.”

Wendy just smiled at this, although she could not help but feel a little concerned for that particular statement as her two mouse saviors left her alone with the guards. Would she now spend the rest of her life living as a mouse? She didn’t feel too bad getting accustomed to being the bunny girl she once was, but a mouse girl? She felt just as nervous about living such a life as she initially did when she found that Minerva had given her bunny ears, and a coat of soft fur to match.

After taking a deep breath, Wendy took a step towards the doors. The statue-like guards finally moved to open the double doors wide, giving a cordial nod to the mouse maid as she timidly stepped past the doors and into a very large, columned room. The entire floor was layered with a nicely-patterned carpet, and pictures of what were obviously a succession of past rulers surrounded this huge throne room. The throne itself was a bit of a distance away, flanked by a pair of curved white marble staircases. These staircases led to a balcony, which was no doubt used whenever the Queen wished to make an announcement to her charges.

The room itself looked large enough to accommodate swarms of field mice, with room to spare. A handful of maids were scattered throughout the room, and they were no doubt absorbed in a number of daily tasks involving the upkeep of the throne room itself. They all seemed quite content with their work, as well.

In the distance, Wendy saw a very regally-dressed figure seated in the throne, and the mouse maid was able to see this particular mouse…no doubt the Queen herself…beckon for her to approach.

As she got closer and closer, Wendy confirmed that the Queen was indeed smiling as she came within earshot. The Queen then gave a signal to one of the flanking guards, and the bunny guard stepped over to Wendy to relieve her of the cheese wheel burden, assuring her that she would get it back afterwards.

Naturally, the Queen held her head high as she regarded Wendy, who after an awkward moment finally performed a low curtsey in front of the smiling monarch. “Your majethty.” She quietly acknowledged.

“Welcome, my dear, to our most graciously-conjured haven.” The Queen began. “I hope you will find our hospitality preferable to those that our less-fortunate kin have had to bear in the realm of Byzantia.”

“Thith plath ith beautiful, your majethty.” Wendy replied, keeping her head bowed.

The elegantly-dressed monarch rubbed her furry chin as the Queen spoke. “I…must commend you on your show of respect, but there is no need for you to keep your head low before me. I should like to see your eyes as we speak.”

Wendy lifted her head, smiling meekly. “Yeth, your majethty.”

The Queen then leaned forward towards Wendy, her smile still on her face. “You should also count yourself lucky that there are a few among the field mice…as well as the bunnies of Bunnybury…who bear your unique handicap. Quite difficult, after all, to be able to form certain words if your tongue isn’t accustomed to having a pair of larger front teeth, yes?”

Wendy blinked, now feeling a bit more nervous. “Um…yeth, your majethty.”

The monarch settled back in her comfortable-looking throne seat. “There is absolutely no reason for you to be nervous, my dear. I know who you are, and I know all about what happened to you. It was explained to me this morning. It never occurred to me that Malvagia was a Yookoohoo, and…well, from what I’ve heard of their magic power, Wendy…”

“I know, your majethty.” Wendy lowered her head in her lament. “I…I gueth I can try t’ fit in wherever y’ need me.”

“That may not be necessary, Wily Wendy.”

The entirely familiar voice immediately caught Wendy’s attention, and her head shot up, her eyes boggling in the hope that she wasn’t hearing things. The voice seemed to come from the darkened space that was behind the throne seat.

The Queen smiled, seeing Wendy’s reaction. “Now you know who it was who explained the situation to me. The Princess Ozma is also aware of it as well.”

Wendy’s eyes locked on Minerva Mulch as the bunny witch stepped out into the light from behind the throne, a slight smile on her face as she looked upon her old servant girl, who was now frozen with disbelief upon spotting the proud witch.

Minerva stepped over to get a good look at the mouse maid Wendy had become. “Seems like everyone wants you as their servant these days, eh?”

“I…I’m tho thorry, Mith Minerva…” Wendy’s voice quaked as she spoke. “…I wathn’t given a choith.”

“I wouldn’t expect someone from Byzantia to give you such.” Minerva replied, gently placing a hand upon Wendy’s gray-furred, whiskered cheek. “Yookoohoo magic is tough to break, Wily Wendy. In fact, I don’t think it can ever be undone. You could be stuck like this.”

The mouse maid tried to keep from crying as she squinted her eyes tight, trying to keep the tears from flowing. Minerva wrapped Wendy in a sympathetic embrace upon seeing this, and she maintained her gentle hold upon the former Texas girl, rubbing her gray-furred head tenderly as she sobbed, until Wendy pulled back, wiping tears from her eyes as she attempted to regain her composure.

Minerva spoke gently as she looked upon the mouse maid’s eyes. “Wendy…Ozma told me she saw what happened to you using her magic picture, and we know Malvagia worked her magic on Princess Dorothy as well.”

Wendy nodded. “He thaid…he wanted to replath th’ King…with Dor’thy. Mith Minerva…she ate hith carroth. Then she had Malvagia change her.”

Minerva closed her eyes, sighing out audibly. The conspiracy he was contemplating with Malvagia’s help was irrefutable. She also now understood his initial interest in Wendy. He had wanted to groom the Texas girl to become the puppet ruler he now had with Dorothy.

The bunny witch looked back up to Wendy. “And then he surrendered you to Malvagia.”

“I don’t like her, Mith Minerva.” Wendy protested. “I’d rather be with you.”

But Minerva shrugged at this. “You’re in the domain of the Queen of the Field Mice, Wily Wendy…and you’re a mouse maid now, whether you like it or not. It’s not for me to decide your fate.”

“Indeed, maid.” The Queen now had a stern gaze fixed on Wendy, her tone imperiously firm as she spoke. “And I will expect you to join the maids you see around you in my throne room, working very, very diligently without protest, should you fail the task I shall now set before you.”

Wendy swallowed audibly upon hearing this. She then glanced to Minerva, who took a step backwards, her own head lowered.

“Your eyes should be upon your Queen, mouse!” The Queen then demanded. “And as a lowly servant, you will not look upon my face unless I tell you to. Do you understand, maid?”

Wendy lowered her head back down, looking very submissive in her posture. “Yeth, your highneth…w…what can I…do for you?”

“First, you shall remain in that uniform at all times, to remind you of your place among the field mice, and you shall never remove it for as long as you are among us.” The Queen sternly commanded. “Is this understood, maid?”

“Yeth, your highneth.”

“Second, you shall put all of your natural cunning towards a truly monumental task. You are to put a stop to the conspiracy being arranged by Plummage Bratprince the third, you are to restore the King of Bunnybury to his rightful place on the throne, and return Princess Dorothy Gale to the throne room of the Princess Ozma of Oz in the Emerald City.”

The Queen’s words thankfully echoed Wendy’s own sentiments…but to have been tasked to do it all by herself was what made the mouse maid’s expression look entirely uncertain.

The monarch of the field mice nevertheless continued upon her next breath. “You are free to amass whatever alliances you deem necessary in the completion of your task. You will not, however, return here to report of your failure, or I will make certain the time you spend as one of my maids will be very harsh, and considerably unforgiving.”

A moment of silence followed as Wendy seemed to mull over this task.

Minerva broke the silence. “Well?” She tilted her head as she looked upon the mouse maid, her own voice firm as she spoke. “Answer your Queen, maid!”

“I’ll do it, your highneth.” Wendy replied, softly but resolutely. “I won’t come back ‘til it’th all done. I promith.”

The Queen and Minerva exchanged sly glances as the monarch of the field mice rose from her seat and approached Wendy, whose head was still lowered.

She stopped right in front of Wendy. “You may look upon me, sweetheart.” The Queen gently remarked.

Wendy brought her head up to see a tender smile on the furry face of the Queen of the Field Mice, who kissed the mouse maid upon her forehead as the monarch held the maid’s arms with gentle grips. “Please be careful, Wily Wendy.” The Queen then gestured towards the throne room exit.

Wendy, however, turned to Minerva, and slowly approached her, hoping she wouldn’t get a sudden rebuke from the Queen. The bunny witch arched an eyebrow as the mouse maid approached her.

“Mith Minerva…” She timidly began. “…ith there any way you can help me?”

“Oh?” Minerva replied, visibly appearing reluctant. “I suppose you want me to cast all the spells, while you take all the credit, maid? I think not! I’ve no desire to make your task any easier, Wily Wendy…”

Wendy sighed. Although she had expected Minerva to be reluctant, she had to at least try.

“…but, I can have you try to convince Princess Dorothy to eat this.” Minerva then pulled a fresh, stemless carrot from her robes and held it out to Wendy. “It will completely counteract the enchantment Plummage has laid upon her. I don’t care how you do it, Wily Wendy, but you must get her to take at least one good bite of this carrot. It should compel her to finish the rest of it.”

Wendy nodded, taking the carrot. She then turned back to the Queen. “I’d bett’r get goin, your highneth…um, if I may.”

The Queen nodded, entirely satisfied with Wendy’s gesture of royal etiquette. “Indeed you may, Wily Wendy…and good luck.”

“I have a feeling you’ll need it.” Minerva mused.

* * *

Remembering what the Queen had said about amassing alliances, she knew she already had two among the field mice. Rosie, and Dodge. She had a feeling Dodge had a few possible connections to make potential use of. Wendy only knew Rosie to be a sweet-natured mouse.

Still, she cared for the plight of the field mice in Byzantia enough to want to make a difference. Wendy wondered how creative she would need to be if Rosie started asking for details about a country Wendy had never been in.

She obviously hoped Rosie wouldn’t go that far.

Wendy was able to spot Rosie and Dodge as the mouse maid retraced her steps. They were muttering a bit when Wendy called out to them.

“Louhi?” Rosie had an almost motherly expression of concern on her furry face. “You weren’t denied citizenship, were you, dear?”

“No, no…but…I really need your help, both of you.” Wendy replied. “I was athked t’ thtop Plummage Bratprince from replathin’ th’ King o’ Bunnybury with a bunny girl who uthed t’ be Dor’thy Gale!”

Rosie gasped at this. “The Kansas Princess? How dreadful!”

“Funny how da Queen’s askin’ a field mouse ta fix a Bunnybury matta.” Dodge mused, looking entirely skeptical. “Ya got some special relationship ta da Queen, Louie?”

Wendy dreaded a question like this. It was time to get creative.

Fortunately, the angle came quickly.

“Do I need t’ have thuch a relationship, Dodge?” Wendy shot back. “It’s kind of inthultin’ that y’ think your…our Queen wouldn’t have the heart t’ care enough for my poor, thufferin’ friendth an’ family in Bythantia…an’ th’ bunnies of Bunnybury! If I can do thith, Dodge, the Queen thaid she’d thend thome o’ her people to Bythantia t’ help me free ev’ryone thufferin’ there!”

“Hey, hey…no need ta get ya tail all screwy, Louie.” Dodge waved her down in a calming gesture as he spoke. “I don’t have a problem wit you makin’ alliances…but ya gotta expect dat not ev’ry mice an’ bunny is gonna wanna mess wit each udda’s biz’ness. Dey might not even care dat Bunnybury’s gettin’ a new boss.”

“Dodge…aft’r ev’rythin’ I’ve heard ‘bout Dor’thy Gale, I…” Wendy sighed. She was running out of ploys. “…honethtly. I really wanna help her! But I…I can’t do it alone!”

Rosie placed an arm around the distraught mouse maid’s shoulders. “Relax, dear. You won’t do this alone.” She then cast a disappointed gaze upon Dodge. “If Dodge won’t help us, well…” Her aged but gentle eyes returned to Wendy. “…I have to confess, I’m not much for planning and strategy, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out.”

“Huh?” Dodge frowned in surprise. “Who sez I don’t wanna help? I can gives ya lots o’ help, Louie! Ya wants distractions? Ya wants me ta muss someone up a little? Just ask ol’ Dodge!”

One word caught Wendy’s attention. “Dithtractionth?”

“Yeah! I can gets ya a few mice or ten…or more.” Dodge offered. “Let me know where ta put ‘em and what ta do. Ol’ Dodge’ll set it all up.”

Wendy began to smile now. A plan was definitely coming together in her mind as she gathered Dodge and Rosie in close.

“We need t’ get Dor’thy away from Plummage. Get her ov’r to me.” Wendy explained. “But I can’t go out there where Malvagia might thee me.” She looked to Dodge now. “Can y’ get me into the Bunnybury palath thomehow? Find thomeplath where y’ can hide me, an’ then bring Dor’thy t’ that room?”

Dodge nodded. “I know ways ta get ya in dere, yeah.”

“I’ll help you with the distractions you need, Louhi.” Rosie then assured. “Don’t worry.” She then looked to Dodge. “I’ll need your friends to help me out a little, Dodge.”

Dodge gave the older field mouse a confident thumbs-up gesture. “Piece o’ cheese, Rosie.”

Wendy nodded, hoping the plan would work. “We’ll need t’ work fatht. Let’th get thtarted.”
(NOTE: SPOILERS to the Oz books below!)

Owing to my long-standing interest in transformation-based media, it wasn't long before I discovered something awfully curious about the first 14 books of the "famous forty"...these being the many stories based around the magical(and of course, fictional) fairyland of Oz created by L. Frank Baum at the beginning of the 18th Century...that Baum himself wrote.

After having done the analysis? I'm convinced the man must have been a bit of a TF junkie himself. Granted, he wrote his 14 stories...among so many other stories he had written, including the Oz-related companion tales The Sea FairiesSky IslandQueen Zixi of Ix, and so forth...primarily for children, but anyone who is hungry for tales of transformation might want to give these stories a look, because Baum seemed to have a knack for perking his tales with plenty of physical alterations, some of them affecting major characters of the series(including Dorothy Gale herself).

Hell, even when I saw the ever-popular 1939 film with Judy Garland, I couldn't help but see that there was potential for magical alterations. The Wicked Witch of the West manages to capture Dorothy, and what does she do? She locks Dorothy in a room of her castle and forces her to stare at an hourglass. Pfft! Pull those shoes off(or trick her into taking them off) and change her into a cat or something! Dorothy likes the Scarecrow so much? Turn her into a straw-stuffed girl! Wouldn't have such a major impact on the ending, after all, given how powerful Glinda is. The Lion could prove his courage(despite having that dumb medal) by melting the Witch, and Dorothy would be restored by Glinda prior to clicking the heels of those sparkly shoes. Ideas like these would have me paying top dollar to see a remake despite my dislike of those kinds of films.

But I digress. There's a LOT more TF activity in Baum's original 14 books, and this is the guy who created Oz to begin with! In all but two of Baum's Oz books, there are flesh-and-blood characters who have been hit with enchantments that violated their natural forms(but please be forewarned, once again, before you keep reading: plot points are effectively spoiled in these revelations)...

.The Marvelous Land of Oz: Most who know the second book are aware of this already, and they probably found Ozma's altered conundrum in the movie Return to Oz laughable by consequence: the main character, a servant boy named Tippetarius, was changed at birth from the form of a female fairy called Ozma by Mombi, a witch who specializes in TF magic. Mombi herself changes to several forms to avoid being detected by Glinda.

.Ozma of Oz: Do you get a kick out of people becoming statues, or other inanimate objects? Book 3 should be on your Kindles. The adversarial Nome King challenges Ozma's entire party of rescuers...and Dorothy herself...to a game of find-the-royal-family-members-who-I-changed-into-Ornaments. Failing this turns the loser into an ornament. Only Dorothy's lucky guess spares her this fate, and her pet hen Billina...having previously spied on a gloating Nome King...saves them all, but not before every other character in Ozma's party, Ozma included, joins the ornament array.

.The Road to Oz: The eponymous road of this particular story includes detours to places called Foxville and Dunkiton. Two human members of Dorothy's crew become subject to enchantments which alter the shapes of their heads. In Foxville, the head of lost boy Button-Bright becomes that of a Fox. Dunkiton's resident King, Kik-a-bray, confers the head of a mule on the homeless, but kind and humble vagabond known only as the Shaggy Man. 

.The Emerald City of Oz: Among the villainous creatures the Nome King's ordained General, Guph, recruits are a race of animal-headed creatures called Phanfasms, who are led by a bear-headed humanoid called the First and Foremost. He demonstrates his transformational powers to Guph by altering the shapes of his entire group of Phanfasms in addition to himself. While there is nothing to indicate that he has control over the shapes of living creatures other than himself and his Phanfasms, I couldn't help but wonder what kind of a place Oz would be if they managed a successful takeover of the fairyland...

.The Patchwork Girl of Oz: Statue TF alert! The birth of the eponymous character results in the accidental spillage of a brew called the Liquid of Petrifaction. Two characters suffer its effects and become solid statues, compelling munchkin protagonist Ojo to commence the story's quest.

.Tik-Tok of Oz: Once again, ol' Shags is hit with an enchantment. The homeless vagabond, on a mission to rescue his brother from the Nome King, is captured by the Metal Monarch, who amuses himself by conferring the form of a Dove on the Shaggy Man.

.The Scarecrow of OzSea Fairies and Sky Island stars Trot and Cap'n Bill join the people of Oz here, but not before they get mixed up in a conspiracy plot in which a treacherous King named Krewl fears that the peg-legged former seaman may be a powerful wizard. He therefore convinces a wicked witch named Blinkie to use a magic powder upon Cap'n Bill, which changes the sleeping seaman into a grasshopper.

.Rinkitink In Oz: Why is Rinkitink's mount, Bilbil, so grumpy? Might be because he had his natural form changed to a goat prior to meeting the jovial monarch. Bilbil used to be a human Prince in a region called Boboland before an evil wizard enchanted him.

.The Lost Princess of Oz: Where'd Ozma go? And why are some seriously powerful magic artifacts gone? Might be the work of a Shoemaker named Ugu, who hits Ozma with an enchantment that literally turns her into a peach pit. Dorothy confronts Ugu wearing the all-powerful Magic Belt, however, and makes a Dove of the villainous shoemaker.

.The Tin Woodman of Oz: It is here that Baum introduces a major agent of change in a rare caste of sorcerers called the Yookoohoos, who are distinct in that they are restricted to transformation-based magic effects. Only two such Yookoohoos exist in Oz, and the first of them...a giantess named Mrs. Yoop...toys with the main protagonists of Book 12 when they slip into her castle seeking an evening's rest. She alters the Tin Woodman to the form of a tin-plated Owl, the Scarecrow becomes a straw-stuffed bear, and a human boy named Woot becomes a green monkey. She also has a canary in captivity which used to be a lost fairy named Polychrome. Mrs. Yoop's alterations are also difficult to break, too. It's easier for her to break the enchantments on the Tin man, the Scarecrow, and Polychrome, but Woot's human basis creates a logistics problem: whoever is changed to a form by Mrs. Yoop is stuck in that form, and the Yookoohoo's spell cannot be broken. It is only when Ozma attempts a sly body-switcheroo that Woot is able to regain his human form, while his powerless simian form is poetically inflicted on Mrs. Yoop.

.The Magic of Oz: Say the magic word and watch 'em change! Such was the neat little trick a naughty munchkin boy learns in Baum's 13th Oz story. Recruited by the Nome King in a bid for power, Ruggedo suggesting an awfully interesting plot in which humans become animals and animals become humans, the boy...Kiki-Aru by name...instead goes on a paranoid rampage as he and Ruggedo eavesdrop on a meeting between wary animals and a group of Ozians, and among the victims of his changing word? Ruggedo himself(he's ironically turned into a goose), the Cowardly Lion(a munchkin boy), the Hungry Tiger(a rabbit), the Wizard of Oz(a fox), and...surprise, surprise...Dorothy Gale(she becomes a lamb). While I liked the overall story, I obviously would have preferred to see everyone locked in their changed forms to provide an extra element of challenge in the story's overall plot(rather than having the Wizard learn the changing word and restoring everybody about two or three pages later). I mean, honestly...it's not like Glinda couldn't restore them all in the end, right?

.Glinda of Oz: Baum's 14th story...the last one published prior to his death...has all of one character struck with an alteration. The villainous Su-Dic gets a lucky shot in with a magic concoction which alters the equally nasty Skeezer Queen, Coo-ee-oh, to the form of a diamond-encrusted swan. The second Yookoohoo...a mean recluse named Reera who commonly takes the form of a gray-furred ape...is also encountered here, but she doesn't change anyone. She does, however, have a home full of pets which she routinely changes to suit her whims.

I should also mention that The Sea Fairies is a goldmine for anyone who likes reading stories about people who become mermaids: the entire story has its human protagonists...Trot and Cap'n Bill...swimming their way through the majority of this lively undersea adventure as merfolk, a perk conferred upon them by mermaids hoping to convince them both that mermaids in general are far from the malicious creatures Cap'n Bill's buddies believed them to be.

Now there are of course twenty-six other "official" Oz stories in the famous forty, but transformations are rare in these volumes(althoughOjo in Oz has one of its antagonists...an evil munchkin wizard named Mooj...change Dorothy and her friends into clocks(!)) compared to Baum's stories. Transformations are even more of a rarity in the Oz stories written by other authors, and when you consider that there is a wealth of potential in Baum's 14 stories alone, it's a bit of a shame for TF fans. Every now and then, you'll see someone throw in a TF perk(the recently-released Nutcrackers in Oz features a witch who turns Dorothy and her friends into wooden nutcrackers)...but for the most part? There's not a lot of TF action in latter-day Oz stories.

But who knows? Maybe sometime soon, someone will come along and realize all this potential by way of one or more brand new stories set in Frank's utopian fairyland...

...maybe my old friend, the Wandering Talespinner, can help there. *winks*

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John Bardy
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morphed08 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thanks for the watch :)
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