Home > The Queen of Oz (Dorothy Must Die 0.9)

The Queen of Oz (Dorothy Must Die 0.9)
Author: Danielle Paige

PART


ONE


Mombi was neither a Good witch nor a Wicked witch—not yet. In fact, she was hardly a witch at all.

She did her best to hide the fact, of course, and most of the citizens of Oz had so little magical skill themselves that in mixed company her magic was impressive enough.

But she knew exactly what she would do differently if she’d had even an iota of the powers that witches had. Over in Munchkin Country, the Wicked Witch of the West had enslaved an entire nation, built herself a castle, and, rumor had it, communed regularly with the dead. Glinda floated around on a cloud of glitter, enchanting people right and left with her sparkly and effective wand. Her sister, Glamora, stuck in a cycle of endless sibling rivalry, was known for reversing her sister’s spells and signing her name in purple sequins. The Wicked Witch of the East, like her sister, had a whole population of Winkies under her control, as well as a battalion of winged monkeys to carry her about as she pleased.

Mombi was sure that power was not meant for ruling monkeys or sprinkling around glitter or talking with dead people. The powerful witches of Oz were wasting their power on petty squabbles. And she would travel to the ends of Oz or the ends of the Road of Yellow Brick to find the power she lacked.

But Mombi, though she called herself a witch, was little more than a garden-variety enchanter, good for entertaining guests at banquets and very little else. For now all she could manage was the flashy stuff that impressed people at parties: pulling Winkies out of hats, dazed and blinking; conjuring fireworks in the shapes of butterflies and lumenberries; temporarily stoppering the mouths of small children so that they were unable to throw a tantrum. But when it came to real magic, Old Magic, the deepest magic of Oz, she was useless. She knew the truth about her power. And all the other witches knew it, too.

And the truth was, Mombi wasn’t terribly fond of banquets or parties. Or performing. Or, for that matter, people. She was pretty sure magic was meant for something other than tricks.

Which was why she’d traveled all the way to Gillikin Country herself, hoping to pick up some hints from Glinda. Glinda might have been fond of glitter, but she had real power, and Mombi knew she could learn from her—even if she used her own power for something different.

The Wicked Witches were notoriously picky about their apprentices (and rumored to eat the unsuccessful candidates). Glinda was annoying, and the food in her palace was terrible (she refused to allow anything that wasn’t pink inside the castle walls), but she was more approachable than most witches with her degree of power. She hadn’t exactly jumped at the chance to help Mombi, but she hadn’t said no outright either.

It wasn’t until Mombi had packed all her witchy accoutrements—baskets of toads, several very expensive jars of eye of newt, a suitcase full of dried herbs painstakingly gathered by Mombi herself, and various pills and powders—and carefully selected the most witchlike of her various capes and dresses, and transported herself via a long and uncomfortable third-class carriage ride through the mountains until she finally arrived at Glinda’s doorstep, grubby and irritable from the journey, that she realized Glinda had never had any intention of helping her at all.

“Welcome, darling!” Glinda had cooed, lounging on a pink sofa piled with pink cushions in her pink-walled sitting room. She was arranging a bouquet of pink flowers with one hand; a pink-cheeked handmaiden was polishing the nails of her other hand (pink, of course); and a pink-liveried footman was feeding her strawberries dipped in pink icing. “It’s so lovely to have company! No one ever comes to visit me all the way up here.” She pouted prettily, then she shot a glance at the handmaiden. “Don’t smear it this time,” she snapped. The handmaiden’s pink cheeks turned a shade paler.

“It’s so hard to find good help these days,” Glinda sighed. “Anyway, dear, what brings you here? How is your family?”

Mombi didn’t have any family. Or at least none that wanted her. She had grown up in an orphanage on the edge of Gillikin and Munchkin Countries. And with no history of her own and no one to tell her otherwise, little Mombi decided that she was most definitely a witch.

She’d obtained spell books from a Munchkin she knew from the orphanage who had opened a shop filled with magical things. Most of the items contained only small magic, but he swore that the books were the real thing. Supposedly they were sourced from ancient magic. Possibly once owned by the Wicked Witch of the West herself.

But now she stood awkwardly in front of Glinda, her suitcases piled around her, realizing she wasn’t in Gillikin Country anymore. Her long, wavy dark hair was usually unbrushed. Her dresses were never quite the style, and they usually fit her badly. She never touched makeup, and her shoes were always scuffed. Her knees were a bit on the knobby side and her arms were too skinny to be shapely. None of these things bothered her in the least under normal circumstances. But in Glinda’s beautifully appointed, ultrafeminine sitting room, Mombi stuck out like a dirty footprint. Glinda herself was wearing a low-cut, perfectly fitted pink dress, its long skirt belling prettily around her on the tastefully arranged cushions. Her flawless skin nearly glowed with its own healthy luster. Her thick hair was glossy and the color of spun strawberry gold. Her long eyelashes fluttered and her mouth sparkled with glittery pink gloss. A huge pink gemstone hung from a thin silver chain just over her cleavage, drawing attention to her perfect breasts.

Next to Glinda, Mombi was aware of her own lack of color and sparkle. But she had never had interest in those things. She hated pink. She hated glitter. Why did Glinda bother with all the dazzle when she had the real thing—real power—underneath. If Mombi had an ounce of the power Glinda had, she wouldn’t dress it up in pink and bedazzle it. She would want her magic to speak for itself.

“Didn’t you get my letter?” Mombi’s words came out more harshly than she had intended, and Glinda arched a plucked eyebrow. Mombi wasn’t much of a diplomat, either, which she suddenly regretted.

“I get so many!” Glinda said. “All these invitations. Doesn’t it just seem like someone’s having a ball or a wedding every week? I’m exhausted.” She giggled.

Mombi was only ever invited to children’s birthday parties as the entertainment. “So you didn’t read my letter?” she persisted stubbornly.

“Dearest, did you send me a letter? Oh, the butler probably misplaced it.” Glinda looked around, seeming to notice for the first time that Mombi was standing uncomfortably in front of her, shifting her weight from foot to foot. “Don’t you want to sit down so we can have a proper gossip? What’s the latest in Gillikin Country?” She giggled again.

Mombi had never gossiped in her life, and even if she did, nothing she knew would possibly be of any interest to Glinda. She set the suitcase she was clutching down with a sigh and made her way to the nearest chair.

“Oh, not that one, darling, do you mind? It’s a terrible chore to get dust out of those cushions. Why don’t you pull up a footstool so you don’t get anything dirty?”

Mombi flushed a bright, ugly red, but she didn’t want to antagonize Glinda within the first fifteen minutes of her visit. “Do you want slippers, dear?” Glinda added pointedly. Mombi looked down. She was tracking mud from the road all over Glinda’s pink carpet.

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