Sneak Preview, Book Three: Emerald Spectacles
Emerald Spectacles, image courtesy oz.wikia.com.
In the recent republishing of Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer, a sneak preview was included. This is presented here on this blog for your reading pleasure. Spoilers after the jump. Don’t jump if you don’t want to be excited for the upcoming continuation of the epic prequel story, The Hidden History of Oz, Book Three: Crown of the Dreamer. Really, this is the last warning. There are a few spoilers if you haven’t read Book Two yet.
Emerald Spectacles – excerpt
All around them the land heaved and groaned as the unconscious nightmares shaped the Land of Oz into the imaginations of an angry wizard.
“He’s not dead!” Promethus shouted.
Glinda and Kally glared at each other one last time then rushed to the fallen wizard’s side. Promethus held both of his hands gently on Oscar’s neck. “His pulse is getting weaker. He is not dead yet, but he is dying.”
“We have to save him.” Glinda dropped down beside Oscar and laid her head on his chest. “What can we do to save him? I can’t let him go. Don’t leave me, Oscar.” The tears flowed down her cheeks. “I am sorry for all the questions I never asked you. Please don’t leave yet. I have so many memories left to make.”
Kally snorted and tried unsuccessfully to cover her mocking guffaw.
“So you are the Witch, Kalinya.” Promethus said to Kally. “Your face is younger than I have seen it in years. I would not have known you from the pout of your lips. Your eyes, however, bear knowledge a sprig of a girl cannot begin to fathom. Amber eyes have always been the mark of your family.”
“All those that mattered. Those that don’t, simply don’t.” Kally curtseyed, displaying her striped stockings and the Silver Slippers.
“What happened to him? A spell?” Promethus asked.
“Unguent. Nikidik brewed it to bring the unliving to life. It has no name.”
“No name means no antidote. There was nothing he mentioned at all? His vanity will not allow him to sit silent when he can boast.”
Promethus glimpsed the flicker in Kally’s eyes before she glanced away.
“Nothing.” the Witch said.
“You remember.” Promethus accused. “You hide your knowledge, but it is your undoing. If the Wizard dies, this destruction and change continues. Is there magic where he comes from? You had better hope so, because his soul is remaking this land in his image. All that he knows and has seen, or even imagined – nothing is withheld as he floats toward death’s threshold. That is the final barrier. Once he is beyond that, our world will be forever changed. And if there is no magic in that world, you, Witch, will simply cease to be. The blood of life has long since fled your veins.”
Kally held her hands up and Promethus’ hand flew behind him toward the hidden pistol. “All right. Yes, I remember. He asked me something strange that did not mean anything at the time. If you have an answer that will save…all of us,” Her eyes lingered on the Wizard longer than they should have. “He said it was the opposite of the Silence the Dreaming Within potion.”
“Silence the Dreaming Within. I have not heard of that. Glinda, lassie, have you?”
Glinda shook her head. She brushed Oscar’s hair back away from his closed eyes. His face was clammy under her hand. “What can we do?”
Kally lifted her skirts and stepped around the Wizard’s body. The Silver Slippers on her feet twinkled in the unnatural firelight.
An idea brightened the Guardian’s eyes. “You have the Silver Slippers.”
Kally dropped her skirt hem back to the ground, covering the Silver Slippers from view. She warily sighted a spot on the distant horizon. “Yes.”
“You can leave at any time. Why have you not?”
Glinda glanced up at Kally’s puzzled stare. That was a question worth asking.
“I don’t have to justify myself to you. I was concerned. The world is ending all around us.”
Glinda stood to face Kally squarely. “You stayed. Whether from spite or love, don’t deny it.”
“I stayed. It’s not like I had any choice. I’m not going to turn tail and let you keep the power.”
Promethus smiled tightly. A twinkle shone in his eye. “Glinda, do you still have the Ruby Spectacles? We’ll need them where we are going.”
The young sorceress felt in her pocket for the magical spectacles. They were safe. “The magic is all around. The land isn’t holding it anymore.”
“It won’t. Whatever control he had over his dreams is gone. That unguent is releasing and bringing to life everything that he dreamed or didn’t allow himself to dream. The Land of Oz is reshaping itself into his image. Look around you—this is not normal. The land will destroy itself. His body is the only thing that is keeping the magic from taking on a life of its own. If he dies…”
“I heard what you told her. The Land of Oz dies, too. The magic is too wild. This raw magic was meant to be filtered. The land will tear apart if he dies.”
“Do you know how to save him?” Kally asked.
Promethus looked down at the Wizard’s pallid face. “No. But I know to keep him from dying.”
Promethus removed his jacket and reached inside his shirt, pulling a large ruby amulet from next to his chest. As he removed it from contact with his skin, his soul-stirring gasp of pain startled both the Witch and the Sorceress. Promethus removed the amulet from its chain and placed the ruby amulet on Oscar’s throat and pushed it down his shirt. “Live, Wizard, that this magic might calm itself.”
Promethus slowly stood. He tucked the chain back into his pocket. Several gray hairs streaked his formerly black hair. His eyes sunk deeper into their sockets. “Look and learn, Witch. Has my face changed so little that you do not see the advancing of years in but a few seconds? If I can learn from the actions of the ancients, perhaps you can learn from me how to keep the Wizard from dying.”
“That’s impossible. Nobody can stop death. Gaylette is gone. Nobody has that power anymore.” Kally scoffed.
“It was not Gaylette that had the power, but the power that she knew how to tap.” Promethus said. He coughed, clearing his throat. “What happens every twenty-two years?”
“Of course you don’t know. You’re just a sprout.” Kally said. “Every twenty-two years? I was not certain that it was so exact. I know only that it happens about every twenty to twenty-five years.”
“The Time of Reckoning.” Kally said.
“Oh.” Glinda said. “I read that the Kings Oz proved their immortal right to rule. But then with King Oz, the Seventeenth, something happened.”
“For a time, death is suspended in Oz.” Promethus explained. “During normal times, the Blood of Oz flows, and death is present in the land.”
A memory came back to Glinda, “As long as the blood of the land flows, the Queen of Dreams cannot enter.”
The older man’s face turned pale. “Where did you hear that?” He demanded.
“I am a sorceress. A sorceress does not reveal her secrets.”
“So be it.” Promethus narrowed his eyes at Glinda. “But what flows? Time flows. Blood flows. The Blood of the Land flows. How is this measured? The Giant Hourglass. Every twenty-two years it turns over and begins anew. While it is turning, the blood is not flowing. Death cannot walk in Oz. In his place, the Queen of Dreams may walk freely, and her power may be exercised.”
“A giant hourglass.” Promethus confirmed. “We’ll have to convince the Guardians of Time to pause the flow.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary.” Glinda said, beginning to see the plan forming. “I can turn over hourglasses. It is one of the spells my mother taught me.”
Promethus’ eyes brightened. “This may work, after all.”
“Where is this Giant Hourglass?” Kally demanded.
“That is for me to know.” Promethus said cryptically. “It is far away. That is all you need know.” He extended both of his hands to the two girls. “I need both of you. To save the Land of Oz, we three must work together.”
“I will not work with her. I don’t trust her.” Glinda protested.
“We are sworn enemies.” Kally agreed.
“Who have gotten along well enough for the love of one Wonderful Wizard.” Promethus interjected. To Kally, he said, “You have had ample opportunity to leave. Perhaps the Witch, Kalinya, would have left, but the girl, Kally, has stayed.”
Great groanings shook the ground beneath their feet. Kally looked toward the shifting horizon, panicked.
“Do not leave.” Promethus commanded. “If you leave, we all die. There is no place to hide. There is no cave deep enough, nor mountain high enough to escape this wild magic. You commissioned the unguent from Nikidik. This is your doing. However, you have the Silver Slippers, which makes you the only person in all of Oz that can get us to the Giant Hourglass before Oscar dies.”
Glinda looked up for the first time since Oscar fell. The two armies were still battling. Their purpose was unchanged, though their leaders had reached an uneasy truce.
“I know the Silver Slippers have a charm. I can only hope that you know how the Silver Slippers work.” Promethus asked the young Witch.
“Traveling here to there. Line of sight. I can go as far as I can see.” Kally said.
Promethus crouched down and lifted Oscar up on his shoulders. He grunted at the weight of the smaller man. “My back is not what it was five minutes ago. We need to get him somewhere safe, away from this battle.” He pointed northward. “There is a deep forest over those hills. Can you take us to the north side? That should be far enough away from this to protect him.”
Glinda picked up the fallen bottle of unguent. There were still several drops of the unguent left. She capped the bottle and put it into her pocket. As she dropped the bottle, she felt the tree seeds that she had received from Perilous Eddy in Emerald City the other day. A thought took hold, and a plan formed in her mind. “I’m ready. I think I know how we can protect him.”
Kally reached out and took the hand of her sworn enemy, Glinda, and then took the hand of Promethus carrying the Wizard on his shoulders. They took one, two, three steps together, and they were gone.
* * * * *
The Hidden History of Oz, Book Three: Emerald Spectacles is due in print at the end of 2014. Watch for it on Amazon and wherever eBooks are sold.
Comments welcome below.