While Madeline begins her Great Valley mission and Jenny Jumps broods over Sirenna's confession, Aladar's Herd begins its own Great Migration to Oz.
"Get a load of that! The cave turned into a big tunnel. How did you do that?"
The aged styracosaur Eema couldn't believe her eyes. At first, the journey began with a walk through the cave, the very place which served as the alternate route to the Nesting Grounds. Eema, as well as several of the Herd, couldn't understand it. If this was the way to Oz, Dorothy and Ojo would have a rude awakening. The dinosaurs and lemurs knew that cave exited into the canyon, and straight to those carnotaurs. Wrong on all counts, because the moment the Herd made it halfway through, the cave instantly lost its cavernous appearance. Suddenly there were no stalactites or stalagmites, no loose rocks, not even the mystic mineral pool. The cave's interior became larger; the ceiling taller to accommodate a creature of Baylene's height. And it wasn't all that dark for here and there were flickering torches to light the way.
Dorothy laughed then explained as she showed Eema the Magic Belt, "This
belongs to Ozma, and it has many, many special powers. Ozma let me use it to help
your Herd make the journey to Oz. This is why the cave turned into the hidden
tunnel; it's one of only two in the whole world and both lead directly to Oz."
Prince Ojo, a handsome young Munchkin boy, further explained, "The walk through the tunnel won't take very long. We'll be in Oz before sunset."
Aladar, at the head of the Herd with Xander and the elderly ladies, smiled,
saying, "And I thought this trip would take many days. Not at all like our trek to
the Nesting Grounds years ago, after the Fireball."
Aladar and the others recounted that catastrophe, the resultant destruction and how it transformed the usual leisurely migration to the Grounds into a death march. He told them about Kron, Bruton, encounters with raptors and carnotaurs, and how Baylene crashed through the cave, revealing the Nesting Grounds.
"That was quite an experience for all of you," said Dorothy who earlier recounted her first trip to Oz. "Then again, we know everything about the Herd, even your encounter with Kirel and Marbe Tasou, Artmo Hox, that bounty hunter–"
The lemur matriarch Plio, who rode "shotgun" on Eema's back asked with some concern, "You know everything about us? How?"
Dorothy explained, "Through Glinda the Good's Great Book of Records. In that
book is information on everything and everyone in the world. Goes as far back as
your time and beyond."
"Yes," said Ojo, "Glinda told us about how the Tasous fled their planet and found that space breach. Many, many Jedi found that time slip and came to Earth, most ended up in different historical eras though."
The elderly brachiosaur Baylene, silent through most of the journey, asked
Dorothy, "If Glinda's book has records on us, what about those others, from the
"Oh," replied Dorothy, "there is much on that herd. The Longnecks, Topsy, Mr. Thicknose, everyone. We know what happened to Pat's wife who was Littlefoot aunt, his mom's sister. She died soon after she and Pat married."
"Pat," said Ojo, "is living in Oz now, in the same valley your Herd will live."
Now Aladar was really curious. How did a dinosaur from the very distant past get to a land as far away, in distance as well as time, as Oz? Did Pat have some assistance as the Herd does now? This he asked to which Ojo replied, "No, he pretty much found the tunnel on his own, only after someone from Oz pointed him in the right direction."
The Herd continued to travel down that tunnel, pausing momentarily for the
elderly members, Eema, Url, and Baylene, to catch their breath and rest some. If
only, wondered Neera, if we had such a tunnel after the Fireball, then we wouldn't
had to push on so much. And we wouldn't had to watch out for predators. Maybe Kron
would stop more often for water and rest. No, maybe not...Wait a minute!
Neera, suddenly recalling that visitation with Gotoma's spirit, just before the Jedi departed for their respective destinations, told Dorothy and Ojo just that. Then she asked why they escorted the Herd and not the woman who was originally to act as such. Wasn't that young woman one of Marbe Tasou's descendants? If she is in Oz now, why didn't she come for the Herd?
To this Ojo explained, "Oh, that would be Madeline Tasou, Marbe's great-great-great granddaughter. Yes, she was to come, but she was busy training as a Jedi like Marbe and Kirel. Now she's in the Great Valley to convince the dinosaurs there to relocate to Oz."
"How wonderful," said Dorothy with glee, "to have the dinosaurs your Herd has only known through your folktales as neighbors."
The clairvoyant parasaurolophus Sarama, who carefully listened to the
conversation, now realized Marbe's descendant's identity. Didn't Ola, her daughter,
mention that she and Suri saw an image in the mystic pool not long ago? An image of
a young woman barely a child herself with an older man who instructed the girl to
feel not think. This child was a budding musician, destined for much greater fame
Gotoma told the Herd of an incredible prophecy first uttered during the Jurassic Period, in the time of the Great Valley, that one of that fabled herd actually foresaw the Jedi, the musicians, Oz, and the ultimate defeat of Dark One who now resides in that magical fairyland of Oz. In her mind's eye Sarama could see that wondrous place, a land of peace and happiness. However, a dark cloud hung over Ozma's realm's future, the Dark One has at last infiltrated Oz, in the guise of an innocent one who is used solely as a pawn to help this evil woman's sinister agenda. Is this why Gotoma urged the Herd to relocate when the time came? To help Ozma defeat the forces of darkness threatening the marvelous Land of Oz?
Then there was the Jedi, those who fled their home galaxy, much like Marbe and Kirel Tasou, via that space breach. The Earthbound Jedi found themselves in various places and periods on this planet, each carving out ordinary lives while very much remaining true the Force. Somehow, the Jedi are the true targets of the Dark One's agenda, one or two in particular as it was foretold this evil person would be defeated by the daughter of a Jedi. But Madeline is not Marbe's child, so if the prophecy points to her, then it's all wrong. Her mother was not a Jedi though she was intuited to the Force, so how could it be?
As she wondered how much this move affected him personally, Sarama thought of the Herd's second in command, Xander, a mysterious, secretive young iguanodon who for some reason has yet to reveal even a tiny bit of information about his family. Surely the boy has some memories of his parents, siblings, perhaps a grandparent. Sarama assumed Xander's fear of the future the heart of his reluctance to discuss his family. Perhaps the loss had traumatized him so, which would explain the repeated bad dreams he'd experience ever since the Jedi left the Nesting Grounds.
"And why does he keep saying, 'I have a bad feeling about this move'? Perhaps his family is in Oz, and he's apprehensive of the reunion."
The Herd, after a brief rest, continued their journey down the tunnel, and a faint light could be seen a few feet away. Ah, so the end is in sight, and so is Oz. Several of the Herd whispered among themselves. What is this Oz like? Would it be like their Nesting Grounds only bigger and better? What about food and water, and what how would their new neighbors receive the Herd? What would the fabled Great Valley herds make of the arrival of creatures millions of years removed from the Jurassic?
"Oz is getting closer," said Ojo, "See? The light at the end becomes stronger
the closer we get. Aladar, when we emerge from this tunnel, we'll be at the edge of
Winkie Country, where the valley – Gotoma's Valley – lies. You'll love it. It's far
larger than your Nesting Grounds, plenty of cool fresh water and lots of food. The
best part for your Herd is, in Oz, you'll never grow older and you'll never know
sickness or death. Everyone is Oz lives forever."
"And," rejoined Dorothy, "the valley is not far from Lindens End, where Madeline Tasou lives. You'll be close to Nick Chopper's castle, the big farm, and it's not far from Emerald City."
Aladar looked at Neera then to Xander who was peculiarly silent during the
entire trip. So what's eating him? Xander waxed pessimistic about the move to Oz,
even wanted out of the whole deal, but thank Baylene for coaxing him to reconsider.
How could Xander be so down on a place that is in every way so wonderful?
The Herd's leader shrugged, then urged them on with a joyous bellow. Just as Ojo said, the light grew stronger, even the fragrance of flowers could be sensed those few feet away from the exit.
"Any time now," Aladar said to Neera. "You know, in a way, this is one time I wish Kron and Bruton were here. A new home where we can live in peace. Live in peace forever."
To this Neera giggled, saying, "Maybe Bruton, but Kron? He'd probably tell Ozma how to run her country."
When Neera said that, laughter and bellows of joy echoed throughout the Herd
as the exit loomed nearer. However, the levity was cut short when someone pushed
through the Herd, shouting, "Hey, let me through! Let me through! Dorothy! Ojo! Wait
up! Help me!"
Now who was this? Was it someone who almost got left behind? In a way, yes, but it wasn't someone from the Herd, neither dinosaur nor lemur. Whatever happened to cause this one such distress? The tunnels are quite safe as no unauthorized persons or beings can't get through. The dreaded predators of Aladar's former environs couldn't even get through to the Nesting Grounds, let alone access the tunnel. So what gives?
Whoever was so distressed finally pushed to the front, giving full view to Dorothy and Ojo. The Herd had no idea who this was, but the pair from Oz certainly did. With a gasp, Ojo ran to this person, and Dorothy, herself quite puzzled to this sudden presence, asked, "What are you doing here? How did you get here?"
Nick Chopper and Scarecrow walked into Mendels' deli, but not for the food as the two friends were not meat people so they had no appetite. Rather they knew several Ozites liked to lunch at this popular Emerald City eatery ever since Eli and Zelda arrived in Oz back in 1942. It was the company the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman enjoyed along with the Mendels' hospitality.
"Look, Nick," said Scarecrow, pointing his long straw-stuffed burlap finger at the table in the back, "There's Number Nine with his sisters, Six and Seven, and Jenny Jump."
As they approached the table, Sister Seven prepared to leave. Now this is odd,
though Scarecrow. Ordinarily Seven would stay longer to chat; everyone knew she was
the most talkative child of that extremely large Munchkin family, but this time she
had an excuse. So, after exchanging pleasantries, she apologized, "Sorry to eat and
run, but I need to get to the salon before rehearsal."
"Why?," asked Nick. "You're pretty as is. Can't improve on that." Indeed he was right for Seven shared the same blonde good looks of her many, many siblings.
Shaking her blonde curls, Sister Seven laughed and said, "Gee, thanks for the compliment, Nick, but it's just a manicure."
Then, "Somehow, I can't seem to hit those high notes; so after I'm done at the salon, it's off to do some vocal aerobics." That said, Seven bid her friends goodbye then left.
"Your sister," noted Scarecrow to Number Nine, "seems dreadfully preoccupied
Number Nine nodded saying, "Yeah, she's been having some off days lately, but it's really nothing to be concerned about. Don't worry, she'll be back to her usual chatty self."
Jenny Jump, picking over remains of pear tart, said nothing, allowing her fairy eye to light upon the front window. Sure enough, she saw that huge moth, the same who typed that message on Jenny's computer. It managed to slip within the folds of the curtains before finding the open top pane then took off outside. Now Jenny didn't dare tell her friends about that odd visit from a certain sorceress now shape-shifted into a moth. She also couldn't share that confession though such vital information would surely end this planned coup against Ozma before it started. In past, when she was firmly on the dark side, Jenny Jump would have not kept her word, ratting out a friend in hopes such would score some Brownie points with Ozma. Oh what to do? Should she sacrifice friendship for the the good of Oz?
As if on cue, at least to Jenny it seemed all to perfectly timed, in walked
Princess Ozma and the Wizard followed by Charlie Lavigne, Maddie's magical
godfather, and a woman no one at the table seemed to know. That is, no one except
Upon noticing Ozma's lunch companions, Scarecrow asked Nick Chopper, "Who's the lady? I've never seen her before."
Nick replied as he studied this woman, "I don't know. Perhaps she's a new arrival to Oz."
Number Nine and Six watched the merry party being seated by Eli Mendel himself, with the latter commenting, "If she's a new arrival, she's made a fast friend in Ozma."
Her brother noticing Jenny staring at this woman, asked, "Jenny, you seem to know her, don't you?"
Jenny Jump finally said in hushed tones, "That's Sarah Levin, married to Benny Levin, a bigshot Wall Street lawyer and financier. They're really rich. I remember reading about them in the society column, when I lived in New Jersey. I know why she's here. She's...Sarah's the Mendels' granddaughter, but they never knew she existed, until now."
Copyright©2007-2009 by PRP