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Sample Chapter – The Witch Queens

The Hidden History of Oz, Book One:

The Witch Queens

Chapter 1: The Life of Glinda

Glinda was destined to one day become Glinda the Good, the most powerful sorceress in all the Land of Oz, but today—with her sixteenth birthday still several weeks away, and her parents doing what parents naturally do—Glinda wanted no part of being good.

From the top of her tousled red hair to the bottom of her bare feet, every freckle, every flared nostril, every narrowed glare identified her clearly as her mother’s daughter. Her red hair was unique in all the land, shared only by her mother—the Red Sorceress. Glinda could do nothing without it reflecting on her parents. That reflection was ever her curse. Glinda’s mother, Gayelette, kept her daughter as a slave in the tower near her palace. Not a slave, exactly, except in Glinda’s mind, but Glinda’s red hair bound her to her life as surely as shackles.

Glinda was always alone, or she felt very much alone, all the time. Her home was a tower in the shadow of the great Ruby Palace in the northern lands of Oz. Here she lived away from her parents, lost in the companionship of her books, and ever cursing her imprisonment. Even though her tower door was open, and stairs led down to the ground (pointed away from the Ruby Palace, no less), she was trapped. She could come and go as she pleased, but mostly she didn’t. She had plenty of food and nice clothing to spare, and she had a voluminous library of books, but there were always strings attached to the gifts from her frequently absent parents—Glinda was expected to abide by four specific rules. The rules were as follows:

No leaving the tower after dark. They didn’t trust her. The shutters were locked at night from the outside. How could they even manage to do that? It was more than forty feet off the ground to get to her window. Neither one of them could fly. The locked shutters prevented Glinda seeing the Ruby Palace at night. Although, sometimes light peeked in through the cracks in the shutters when the night was full. It was a mystery, and they wouldn’t even allow Glinda to try to solve it.

Stay out of the Ruby Palace. What was in there? Nobody was allowed in. But Glinda was family. Why wasn’t she allowed to go in? And there was a corollary to that rule, too.

Do not disturb your mother while she is working. Her mother was always working. The Ruby Sorceress was probably the most powerful person in the entire land, but she was too busy to pay attention to what was right under her own nose. She didn’t care one whit about her daughter, so why should Glinda try to care about her mother? This rule hadn’t been difficult for several years. Once Glinda had discovered the magical worlds within books, she didn’t care any more about trying to get close to her mother. It didn’t bother her at all. Not even a little. Most of the time.

Be the person you are destined to be. This was the one that frustrated Glinda the most. How was she supposed to find her destiny if they never let her do anything? It wasn’t fair that she had to be exactly what they wanted her to be. What if she wanted to be something different? What did her parents know about destiny anyway?

That was it. Those were the rules that made her life a living prison. Glinda counted down the days until she would be an adult. Her sixteenth birthday was approaching. Though it was still several weeks away, it could not come soon enough. When that magical day came, she would finally become an adult and she could rid herself of all the shackles that bound her to childhood. She could at last be free of all the things that, to her parents, made her a child. She would be a woman in their eyes. But the one thing she could never be rid of was her red hair. It was a shining beacon to everyone, proclaiming exactly who she was—Glinda, daughter of Gayelette, Queen of the Ruby Palace. Even to people Glinda had never met, it was perfectly clear who she was. It was a known fact throughout the entire Land of Oz that there were only two people that had red hair. Of these two red-heads, only one of them was young.

Only one was young. That was not actually true, as they were both young, and they certainly appeared so. It was true that Glinda was only fifteen—that was undisputed. Gayelette, however, was older, though how much older nobody seemed to know. She certainly did not look old enough to have a fifteen year old daughter. Once she had bragged to Glinda that they would very soon be the same age and they would look like sisters.

It was said that Gayelette had discovered the secret to stop aging. Naturally, all of the women were envious of her, but Gayelette never paid them any mind. As the years of her life passed by, Gayelette had grown more and more reclusive. She did not associate with the people of the North Village or even those of the larger lands of the North. She kept her confidences and her attentions strictly to visitors who came within her personal residence. This house was constructed of strong stones and surrounded by an equally strong stone fence. This house sat nestled in the hill at the base of the Ruby Palace. Visitors to Gayelette’s home ranged from merely mysterious to the outlandishly exotic. Witches and fantastic travelers from the far reaches of Oz sought out the Red Sorceress for her knowledge.

All of these types of exotic folk congregated here this time of year—the one time that all magical enemies and purveyors of the esoteric arts could come together—in the shadow of the Ruby Palace, at the Abracadabra Bazaar.

It was for this once-a-year event that Glinda was preparing today. Despite her mother’s clear instructions that she was to keep her hair straight for the event, Glinda spent over an hour curling and teasing her hair. She was almost sixteen, and she would not be told how she could or could not fix her hair. She wanted to make a bold statement when she went out. Her hair would be remembered today. Glinda, not her mother, would be the star today.

The door to Glinda’s room in the tower was closed. She didn’t want anyone sneaking in and telling her that she couldn’t do what she was doing. She wanted it to be a surprise. Oh, she looked forward to seeing her mother’s face. Glinda spent the morning curling her hair and making it just right. As she finished the last lock and teased it into place, a shimmer in the mirror drew her attention. She looked behind her in the mirror. There was another red-haired reflection just behind her. Only this was older—an ageless beauty. Her mother, Gayelette, Sorceress of the Ruby Palace, forced a tight smile at her daughter’s reflection in the mirror.

“Your hair is different than I had planned. You have time to straighten these curls before the bazaar. You are my daughter. You must look the part.”

Glinda glared at her mother but said nothing. Then she slowly turned on the stool. “Why?”

“You are my daughter. I expect you to look like it today.”

“But that doesn’t make any sense. I don’t want to always have to be like you want me to be. Why can’t I do what I want to do, just once?” Glinda protested.

“Your dress will be here within the hour. It is lovely white. It is a good color for today. I expect that you will like it.”

“I was going to wear my green dress.”

“You must learn to rise to expectations, Glinda.” Her mother declared. And that was final. Gayelette tapped her heels together three times and she was gone.

Once Gayelette had gone, Glinda was free to be angry. She hurled her brush at the place her mother had occupied mere moments before. She screamed angrily and stomped her feet. Then she threw herself down on her bed and clutched a pillow to her chest. “I am not what everyone expects! I’m not, I’m not, I’m not!”

It was during this fit of teenage tantrums that the dress was delivered. The knock at the door was met with a scream and several shoes being thrown. The dress was hung neatly outside to wait for the princess to calm down.

It only took an hour.

Glinda emerged from her tower room wearing a beautiful green dress. Her red hair was exquisitely curled and teased for greater volume. She looked narrowly at the white dress hanging by the door. She lifted one of the sleeves and ran her fingers over the lace and embroidery. It was a lovely dress, but it was not her choice. Therefore, it would stay where it was, and Glinda would go out, of her own choice, to face the world on her own terms.

* * * * *

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