|| Previous | Pantope Logs | New Blood Logs | Up | Next ||


Ancient Oz

Chapter: On to Ancient Oz

by Ann Broomhead

New Blood Logs:

Tom Noon's Tale


In Chaos

Voyages of the Nones



Mother Goose Chase

Ancient Oz


Adventures of the Munch

Lanthil & Beyond

A murmur of consternation arises at Tik-Tok's announcement that the Wizard has disappeared.

"What was his last experiment?" demands Princess Ozma.

"He was try-ing to build a time ma-chine."

Our ears prick up, and Robbie broadcasts over the net, "That sounds like our cue!"

Beside him, the Wogglebug stiffens and mutters, "Oh, dear!"

Robbie turns to him, and inquiringly quotes, "'Oh, dear'?"

The Wogglebug moves his upper arms in obvious agitation. Then he runs them down his red-and- white front, stands up, and politely requests of his hostess, "May we see the scene of the experiment?"

"A good idea," nods Ozma.

After a brief mental consultation, we resolve that Dafnord should stay with the dinner guests, but that at least Kate and Robbie should view the evidence. Along with Dorothy, we form part of a soft wedge of people trailing Ozma up the stairs.

Robbie slows down fractionally to put himself next to the little girl. "Does he do this often?"

"Not often," she admits. "He went off in his balloon. That was the first time. Then we were both taken away, but we rescued ourselves. There have been other times ... but not recently."

By now we have made our way up the tower to the Wizard's laboratory. It is a light, airy room, with lots of glass and brass, and two extensive chemical set ups. There are no mysterious pentacles, or shattered beakers, or even any loose papers on the floor. Ozma's eyes sweep the room. "Where was the experiment held?"

"It was not here," explains Tik-Tok in his slow monotone. "It was high-er up." This makes sense to us. Running a time experiment in a crowded room filled with glassware is simply not sensible. The mechanical man leads us up onto the roof of the tower.

Robbie confirms that there is an unusual psionic signature here, while Salimar pulls out the Map of Here and examines it. Yes, there is a recent anomaly here, which the Key lists as an Ashleigh time machine. Kate peers over her right elbow and Markel looks over her left shoulder. They agree that the Wizard must have used magic, mixed with material objects, to produce the Ashleigh-like effect.

(Down in the dining hall, Dafnord asks Nick Chopper if the Wizard was often late to meals or appointments. The Woodsman shakes his head. "No, he's not absent-minded at all.")

Ozma asks about the Map of Here. Salimar explains that it is a combination of high technology and of magic, and that she is merely its current custodian, not its maker. The princess points to the Key and looks inquiring. Kate reads "Ashleigh Holmes St. Clair type machine trace."

"Holmes machine!" she exclaims, and is echoed by the Wogglebug and Tik-Tok.

The latter two explain that the Wizard had heard of Holmes and wanted to make a time machine. Kate is thrilled. Now she knows that we are on the Literary Line, her own (and Robbie's) line of history, rather than the Main Line.

("Ashleigh," says Dafnord in surprise. Nick looks at him. "An absent friend," says the Acro. He goes on to explain that he is in telepathic contact with the Lanthilor who went with Ozma.)

They continue to explain that the Wizard's idea was to use it about the time we came, and astound us with his mysterious knowledge. The Wogglebug describes the calibration experiments that the Wizard did. We start to get a bad feeling, especially Kate. Ashleigh spent a stupefying amount of time on calibrations, lecturing Kate on the need for exceptionally accurate measurements, and explaining that propulsion was not linear, but was a fourth power function. The Wizard only calibrated across a week, and his readings were very casual, since he was using the shape of cloud formations as his base.

Kate asks, "Did he keep a journal, or make notes?"

"Yes," replies Tik-Tok. "They are in his la-bor-a-tor-y."

They return downstairs, and Kate starts to scan the journal that is out. There at the beginning are O. Z. Diggs' drawings of his machine. It is a grandfather clock, tall and very squat, with controls mounted on and around the face. There are eight brass handles on the clock, one on each side and one on each corner, and each about two feet long. Ice forms in the pit of Kate's stomach. Not only is this device not in self-containment, it is not even enclosed. Between that and the poor calibration, she can make no prediction about when or where the Wizard is.

As she starts to study the notes, everyone hears a distant whirring noise coming from above. Robbie sends a viewpoint back up to the roof, where he sees that there is now a grandfather clock with handles standing there. "The time machine has returned. I don't see the Wizard."

Ozma seems confused. Robbie assures her, "I looked." She trots up to the roof, trailed by several of the curious, and confirms Robbie's story.

Now that Salimar has a physical object, she sets to work and soon has a full retrocognition display running in octarine-and-white. The princess emits an involuntary, covetous "Oooh" at the first sight of the octarine-glowing clock. A smug, octarine Wizard steps up to it, sets its hands, and presses the button in the middle. (Inevitably, the button is inscribed with the "OZ" logo.) The background flickers through night and day, faster and faster, until not even Gannar can count them. There are a lot more than seven.

The Wizard looks concerned even before the flicking stops. When it does, he doesn't move at first, then, still holding on to the clock, he looks around. Whatever he sees cannot be good, because he lets go, and dashes off with a good turn of speed. In a second, flashes of hands and feet dash through the view, and some people spot swords in those hands.

We all stare thoughtfully at the octarine clock on the octarine roof of an octarine tower. "How long has the castle been here?" asks Robbie.

"The Wizard built the current version," explains Ozma, "but he modified and expanded on a really much older castle."

"Did the old castle include this tower?"

After a moment's thought, Ozma admits that this tower is as old as anything in the area.

The retrocog continues its display as we think and talk. Eventually, we get to watch its return to here. We can at least confirm that its hands remain at the setting where the Wizard placed them.

Ozma blinks, and recalls herself to her duties. "I must inform my court. Tik-Tok, stay with the machine. Don't touch it."

"I will o-bey."

A stream of people follow the princess down the stairs again. Salimar stays behind to place a hex tracer on the clock. We may have lost the Wizard, but we are not going to lose our connection to him.

Our crew plus the Wogglebug return to the lab, where Kate really starts to dig into the Wizard's work. She finds that there are no sketches of the more exacting pieces of a Holmes time machine, points to their positions in the overview, and asks the Wogglebug what the Wizard did for those parts. He explains that he used magic to make substitutes. Kate has him bring her that notebook. Meanwhile, she asks him if the Wizard understood that time is immutable. She gets a positive assurance, and the notebook.

She soon despairs of understanding it; in contrast to the earlier work, this is done in six colors, with arcane symbols and multiple languages. The notes in English indicate that he was on the right track, but she cannot follow any of the spells. Another question of the learned insect reveals that it was Glinda who taught the Wizard whatever magic he knows. Perhaps she will be able to decipher his notebook.

Salimar concentrates on what we've learned, and what we can deduce. We know that he went to a time, in the past, when this tower already existed. The people he fled from were probably guards, but our glimpse was from a poor angle, and we could not identify any uniforms. Salimar asks, "What was the worst of times for Oz?"

"That would be during the Hegemony of the Cardinal Witches," she is told.

Salimar continues to speculate about a worst-case scenario. "So, when that period was ending, and the witches were being eliminated, they would perceive this clock as an escape method. Tell us about the witches whose end is unknown."

"Oh, there are lots. There's Mombi, of course. And the Crooked Wizard. But we know all about them. I know there were others, whose stories we don't know."

Dafnord had been chatting with those still at the banquet table. (The Hungry Tiger, and our Dragon have dined well, clearing off every unguarded plate.) Suddenly there is a hush, as all eyes turn toward the doorway. Dafnord turns as well, to see a woman in a white dress and red robe enter. She has red hair, and looks like a mature version of Ozma. Glinda. He broadcasts to the people still up in the lab, who promptly abandon their efforts and head downstairs, lead by Ozma.

In the dining hall, people bow to Glinda, and she nods regally back. Ozma enters, and the two clasp hands and look deeply into each other's eyes. The witch announces, "I have already learned of the mishap from my Book of Records." (This, Gannar explains, is a Newspaper of Now, rather like our Map of Here.) "Let us look at the Wizard's notebooks."

We turn around and lead the way back up to the Wizard's laboratory. Glinda studies the offered books. Kate stands at her elbow, and explains what she can. We work out that there are two, and in some places more, layers of controls. We know the calibration was inadequate. Kate and Glinda still conclude that the time clock will have good repeatability. If we don't touch the dials, the machine will travel back the same hours that it originally traveled.

Glinda now joins us in another trip to the roof, where Salimar explains about her retrocognition, and the tracer she has put on the time clock. Glinda nods, and examines the clock closely with an apparently lensless magnifying glass. When she is finished, Salimar re-runs the retrocognition. Like Ozma, Glinda exclaims at her first view of octarine, and then carefully studies the silent display before her.

At the end of the second run-through, Ozma draws herself up to her full height. She announces, "Our beloved Wizard has suffered an accident. He went exploring in the past and became separated from his time machine. He must be rescued. I will be taking part in this rescue. Who else will come with me?"

Glinda attempts to rein her in, while Dafnord begins a protest, "Princess--"

Salimar exercises her diplomacy. "Perhaps it would be wiser for you to remain here, while some experienced time travelers return to the past with the time clock."

Daphne worries about a paradox. "What if the clock were to meet itself back in the past?"

The Wogglebug, who has an excellent grasp of temporal theory, explains why this won't happen. "The time machine is set to go back seven days, not to a particular date. If it goes back now, it will go back to a time when it has already been gone for several minutes." Daphne works this out, and is comforted.

Rather than argue about this on a rooftop, Ozma leads us back down to the main floor. There, she asks us, the Scarecrow, and the Wogglebug to join her in the room of the Magic Picture. We do so, and both Dorothy and Glinda come as well. Ozma says, "Let us try ordinary means first. Magic Picture, show us the Wizard."

The portrait instantly turns a nondescript, uniform grey. "Are you willing to take part in a magical experiment?" she asks us. We nod. "Madam Salimar, please try to place your clairvoyant image into the Magic Picture."

Salimar agrees, then hesitates. "There may be some image or scene that is... difficult for many to view. Shall I edit out such images?"

Her offer is accepted. Ozma and Glinda draw forth slender, silvery wands. They wave them over Salimar and the Magic Picture. Our alien feels the tingle of their passage. Dorothy is sent running up the stairs to inform Tik-Tok that he must send the clock back in time again. There is a long pause, then Salimar feels another tingle. Her hex glamour has been activated.

There's a view in the Magic Picture now. It's a balding man, apparently in his sixties, slipping surreptitiously along stone corridors, with a look of considerable concern on his face. "Do the corridors look familiar, ladies?" asks Salimar.

They shake their heads 'no.' Glinda says, in tones of near horror, "The corridor is grey." Ah. So even the underground levels of the Emerald City are green now.

We continue to watch the Wizard move cautiously from corridor to corridor. Dafnord says, "He knows these corridors. He isn't simply in flight. He is going somewhere."

Glinda has continued to think about the implications of the grey walls. "Before the Emerald City was the Emerald Citadel..."

"It was guarding something...?" prompts Salimar.

"Yes, the Viridian Fields."

We soon tire of watching the Wizard tiptoe through a maze of corridors, all alike. Salimar moves the viewpoint to that of the time clock itself. She pans the view through the full 360 degrees to show a late afternoon scene of long shadows, a few more towers, a wall, and, beyond that, fields and forest. There is a green pennon flying, with a white "OZ" on it. There is no city, and the wall is closer that the current wall. The fields and the forest are very, very green. Salimar zooms in on the few people on the walls. Their costumes are drab, quite unlike modern dress, and have a Norman-ish style to them.

"That's a thousand years ago. Or it could be a few centuries either way," judges Glinda. "If we could get an aerial view, then we could learn the exact layout. We should be able to learn the rough date from that."

Salimar does that, and then inquires, "Is there, perhaps, a known artifact from that time available...?" Apparently none tracable to just the time we're viewing.

We return to following the Wizard, who has finally reached some stairs, and is climbing. We wonder around contacting him with telepathy, but decide that the risks of disturbing him and of being detected are too great. The Wizard reaches the top, where it is now dusk, and slips around the edge of a courtyard to a gate in the wall. The gate won't open for him. He moves along towards a winch, but stops. Ah. The winch is guarded. He reaches down, and picks up something from the base of the wall. He tosses it, and his lips move. The guards move in the direction of the tossed pebble, so his ventriloquism must have been successful. Quickly, he winches the gate up some two feet, slips under it, and takes off into the farm country.

At that moment, the time clock begins its return journey.

Robbie sends a second-sight viewpoint back up the tower, and is soon able to cast a current aerial view over the octarine one that Salimar just made. Although it is intriguing to learn how much of the modern stables are part of that old wall, et cetera, we concentrate on the Wizard. He was headed south, towards Lake Quad. We decide that the best thing we can do is -- very carefully -- move the time machine to the Lake Quad area, send it back again, and follow the Wizard some more.

Princess Ozma orders up an Ozoplane, an aerial transport featuring a stubby fuselage and two orange balloons for VTOL. The Lanthilor mentally consult, and decide that it would be wise to prepare for a temporal jaunt into the wilds of ancient Oz. We pick up clothes, weapons, and the usual odds and ends. The Ozoplane arrives, hovers over the time clock on its tower, and a mass of sturdy ropes are dropped out of it.

Soon we are flying south, airlifting the clock to Lake Quad, with Ozma, Glinda, Dorothy, Tik-Tok, and the Wogglebug. This is definitely a large lake; we cannot see its far shore. The bright emerald green on this side, however, comes right up to its edge. For the second time, we send back the time machine, with Tik-Tok doing the honors again. Now that we are present to watch it, we get to see its golden glow, and hear its thrilling hum, not at all like a dying accordion.

We stand around and watch the live Salimar TV (in living Octarvision). We get to see the retreat of the night fisherman, the event that heralds the arrival of the time clock, for it is night now. In addition to the expected lake and woods, there are farmlands, and farmhouses with lights. As Salimar tries for a closer examination of the area, her perception bounces off a cloak. She links with Glinda, and tries again. There is a barrier there.

Salimar opts for subtlety. She locates the trace of the Wizard near the Citadel, and follows it towards the lake. He has taken a path that will become one of the famous yellow brick roads leading to the Emerald City. He is looking for something. His path leads into the woods. Glinda remarks that this is a bad idea; that locale in that period is definitely not safe. She is quite right. The trail ends abruptly. Glinda and Salimar steer the viewpoint around, and spot clues such as broken branches and extensive charring. Glinda is sure that a duel arcane has been fought here.

She checks the shields again. They're still there. They were not made by the Wizard. Therefore, we must conclude that he has been captured by a magical being... about 1,700 years ago. There were lots of witches in Oz then.

"Princess," says Dafnord. "It seems it will be necessary to physically rescue the Wizard. I offer my services to rescue the Wizard." There is a chorus of accord from the rest of us.

We wonder if we have a practical method of contacting the Wizard, and dial his phone. It is answered by the Scarecrow. He has no other phone, so he has no phone with him.

"Tik-Tok," asks Robbie. "How do you disable the automatic return on the clock?" Tik-Tok explains the technique, pointing to the image of the clock in illustration.

After its hour in the past, the time clock returns. Glinda would like to be one of the time travelers, but is afraid of meeting herself. We can assure her that timelock will keep that from happening. The clock has eight handles. She will take one handle. We'll have to bring Angel, because he can make a path to Chaos, and once we have that, Fallataal can walk to there and then on home. Kate, who has built a Holmes time machine, definitely has to come. None of the others is willing to be left behind; we'll just have to share handles.

Updated: 7-Oct-06
©2002,2005 Ann Broomhead and Earl Wajenberg. All Rights Reserved.

|| Previous | Pantope Logs | New Blood Logs | Up | Next ||