The Holocron faded. Now he could turn his attentions to the present. Through that humongous crystal ball, he could see her, on the porch enjoying tea with her cousin. Ah, so she has arrived safe and sound, yet she still does not know where she is. No matter, for this evening she shall learn of her 'vacation' paradise, and that she is here permanently. Well, not so permanently. That portkey Lenore gave her will assure safe passage between Oz and the Great Outside World. I will have to thank Glinda and Albus for that little treasure, and to allow such travel when Oz is really cut off from the rest of the world. Usually when someone arrives here, few seldom return to the outside...
In the crystal ball he peered, watching for signs of surprise or shock. No, not yet, for James hasn't given her that lightsaber, Marbe Tasou's Jedi weapon. She still does not know the entire truth of her illustrious ancestor. Oh, she's managed to put it together, especially since that visitation from Obi-Wan Kenobi. He told her so much: How Ricar Tasou penetrated that time slip years ago, how Tasou visited an unknown planet in an uncharted star system. Not once, but twice, and Tasou encountered wondrous creatures. Alas, when he arrived the second, and last, time, two Valley residents had gone. One died; the other simply left the Valley out of grief. But he will return...to Oz.
There was another one, one who Ricar Tasou met during his first visit...She was the youngest child of the Longnecks, Bron being the eldest. She had already disappeared when Ricar arrived, kidnapped. Only the girl's best friend, a corythosaurus, and I, know what really happened...
"Major Spikeblade! You will not breathe one word to Madeline. She must discover these things herself."
He didn't see her at first; in fact, she merely appeared, without warning, in his cramped cottage. That was her way, and she had every right to chastise him over what surely could become one of Oz's most challenging mysteries yet.
"Locasta," Spikeblade said somewhat sheepishly, "I didn't hear you come in."
He still gazed into the crystal ball, a gift from Nick Chopper the Tin Woodman. That ball once belonged to the Wicked Witch of West, a device she used to spy on the newly arrived Dorothy Gale. As of now, the Wicked Witch had been long dead, melted by Dorothy herself, and all that belonged to the Witch was distributed among her former soldiers, men who had been under her spell, including Major Spikeblade.
"Can't I just look at her, Locasta? She gives me great joy, and I await the day we finally meet face-to-face."
"But, Major," said Locasta, the Good Witch of the North and ruler of Gillikin Country, "As I said, she must learn these things for herself. Already Glinda, through her Book of Records, learned what happened to that little one, the one who disappeared just before Ricar Tasou's visit. No, I shall not reveal the sordid tale; let Madeline learn it on her own. She is, after all, the key in convincing those creatures to relocate to Oz, She must reconnect with her distant family, Major, and she must defeat the dark one who has plagued her family, and others, over the years. Only then shall you reveal yourself to her."
Major Spikeblade, a tall, slender man with long brown hair and lambent hazel eyes, looked far younger than his actual years. Of course, Ozites are always much older than they appear, even the children. Many people of Oz often guess at Spikeblade's actual age, some coming close when saying he has to be at least four-hundred years old.
Despite his reclusive existence in a sparse, lonely cottage on the western border of Gillikin County, Spikeblade retained his learned, cultured ways. He loved fine music and art, great literature and good wine. Soft-spoken, kindhearted, warm and open to all who encounter him, Spikeblade was a particular favorite of Locasta who gladly gave him refuge after his ordeal under the Wicked Witch. He, though inexplicably, gave up Lindens End, his luxurious, expansive house in Winkie Country. That house once sheltered him and his second wife, along with their three children and many servants. What became of the wife and children is still a mystery to this day. They did not die as all Ozites live forever; rather, it has been said they live elsewhere in Oz, perhaps in Emerald City, under assumed names. Why this happened is anyone's guess.
"Major," said the Good Witch, "you will see your family again, but only after Madeline defeats this Duclos man. I talked it over with Ozma and Glinda, and there is nothing we can do. Only Madeline, once she learns the truth of why she is here, has the power to make things right again. Allow her to settle in Oz, make some friends, find her place among us. She will meet those who fell victim to Duclos."
"Such as," said Spikeblade, "the Mendels. Oh, Locasta, Duclos' family has been a thorn in so many, including my own immediate family...But is she ready to take on such responsibility? Indeed, she shows courage, determination, resourcefulness. Yet she is a musician by trade; she hardly possesses the skills of a warrior let alone a Jedi."
"Have faith, Major," Locasta said before leaving. "As I've warned: Do not reveal yourself until the time..."
He looked up and discovered Locasta had vanished into thin air. With a sigh, he once again peered into the crystal ball, hoping to get the chance to meet this young woman. Oh, what is this? She is about to receive the lightsaber, the very weapon she'll use against the Evil One.
"She does have the makings of a fine Jedi, Major. Would it help if I talked to her?," said a soft voice. He wheeled around; at once he knew her.
"I can't get over how splendid you look! My goodness, this place must have that rejuvenating effect."
So said Madeline as she poured tea for James and herself. It was a joyous reunion for the two cousins who hadn't seen each other in more than six months. The last time they crossed paths was in New York, during a special tour to promote Maddie's latest recordings. She enjoyed a rare respite from the never-ending crush of performances and personal appearances on television talk shows, spending her free time exploring all those exclusive shops along Fifth Avenue. They ran into each other in Hermés; she was searching for a new briefcase, he had just come in. James was so kind to Madeline, even offered to purchase the very expensive briefcase out of love. They enjoyed a nice lunch afterwards, discussing plans for each other's futures. After all, they were the last of the Newburys, although James voiced disdain for inheriting any of that ill-gotten fortune, and Maddie echoed those sentiments.
Of course, now, this was not the time to rehash old memories or bitter hatreds. The past is done; there was no more looking back. However, an item or two from that past – Madeline's maternal forebears to be precise – resurfaced the moment James made an offhand comment on Lavinia's dead-end search for Marbile Beauchamps.
Passing a plate of cucumber sandwiches, James asked, "What did Aunt Lavinia find out about Marbile?"
She replied to James' question. "Mom and I tried to research Marbile's history best we could. Records on her stop at 1824, the year she was born. But why couldn't we find previous records of her parents, grandparents? Even back then they kept birth, marriage, death records."
James nodded, saying, "There is a reason why you nor Aunt Lavinia couldn't find anything prior to that year, Madeline. And both she and Charlie knew that reason, as did I once Aunt Lavinia told me shortly before she died."
He reached under the chair and produced a parcel wrapped in purple velvet and tied with white ribbon.
"This belonged to Marbile Beauchamps, née Marbe Tasou. But, before I give this to you, please hear out her strange history."
Maddie listened as James recounted that strange history: How Marbe Tasou found her way to New Orleans circa 1848, married Jean-Paul Beauchamps then moved to Natchez. There was the ever present secrecy surrounding Marbile, how the hired help and servants were sworn never to reveal Marbile's true nature, and that of Jean-Paul.
"She was really from a distant planet, from a faraway galaxy, Maddie. She and her brother fled their home to escape some mad emperor who slaughtered each and every Jedi Knight. Marbe and her brother, Kirel, found that time slip and came to Earth. But they landed in the distant past, the Cretaceous Period to be exact. There they spent time with these remarkable dinosaurs, even helped in reuniting a mother with her long-lost son. See, there was the case of a smashed nest..."
He paused, gauging how Madeline absorbed all this new, incredible information. He wondered if she believed a word of it, or whether she'd accuse him of lying, calling him mad and deranged. However, the reaction he expected didn't happen.
She said almost ethereally, "I know. Somehow I know."
Copyright©2007 by PRP