Scarecrow brought Dorothy back to his little hideout while the tiny fairy carried a message back to Glinda. There was a strange atmosphere when Scarecrow sent the fairy off, but Dorothy remained silent about it. She knew something was not right and she had inkling that it was probably the reason for her return. Even though the thought bothered her, she ignored it as long as she could to catch up with her old friend.
When they finally climbed up the long flight of spiralling stairs, Scarecrow ushered Dorothy into his small home and quickly cleared a chair stacked with books.
“It’s a little messy, I know. I haven’t had time to organize everything,” Scarecrow said.
“Reading does take a lot of time,” Dorothy replied with a smile.
Toto, who was previously so full of energy, now rested his head on his paws as Scarecrow scavenged a drawer for a dog treat.
“So tell me Scarecrow, what has happened to Oz?” Dorothy asked.
Scarecrow sighed and leaned against a wooden table.
“I don’t know much, because I haven’t been out a lot. But the tiny fairy told me an evil queen has taken over Oz, and Glinda told her to bring you back.”
“Where is Glinda?”
“Most likely in a lot of trouble.”
“Then I need to save her,” Dorothy said as she got to her feet.
“Hold on, we don’t know what the situation is like in Emerald City. And let’s not forget that you are weapon-less,” Scarecrow pointed out.
Dorothy looked a little worried for a few seconds, and then she smiled. She knew Scarecrow well enough to know he probably kept her weapons.
“Where did you keep them?” Dorothy quickly asked.
“Now, now. Who says I’m going to give them to you? I can’t let you go running into Emerald City and getting yourself killed.”
“I’m not stupid, Scarecrow. But I need my weapons.”
Scarecrow thought for a while, but he eventually gave in even though it was against his better judgement.
“Fine, but you’re doing as I say until we hear from Glinda.”
Dorothy nodded her head and let Scarecrow take the lead. Toto seemed remotely interested in the retrieval of her weapons, so they left him lying on the rug.
As they went down the flight of stairs they just climbed up, Dorothy was tempted to ask where Scarecrow had hidden them. But when they walked past a courtyard full of wild weeds and headed down another flight of stairs, Dorothy decided that it was more exciting if she did not know.
When the descending stairs was finally out of light’s reach, Scarecrow pulled out his matchbox and lit a match. He then flicked it down the steps and said, “Not much further. Watch your step.”
The stairs stopped on a dark platform. The air in that area was wet and cold, and it sent shivers down Dorothy’s spine. Scarecrow lit another match and lighted the torch he took from the damp and musty brick wall.
“Follow me closely. It is easy to get lost in these tunnels,” Scarecrow said, and his words echoed down the dark tunnel.
It was surprising how long the torch could last as the two of them turned corners, descended more steps, and made their way deeper into the darkness. When curiosity finally set in, Dorothy asked, “What is this place?”
“This is an underground passageway that leads to the neighbouring towns. Nobody uses it anymore after the castle was destroyed. They say if you listen carefully, you can hear the cries of the dead in the air.”
“I don’t believe you,” Dorothy simply said, and just as she did she felt the hair on her nape rising. She didn’t tell Scarecrow of course, he would have laughed at her.
Not long after the hair-raising encounter, they entered a circular chamber. Scarecrow lit the torches on the wall and darkness fled almost instantly. The chamber’s wall was damp, the floor had cracks, and right in the centre was a puddle of water. Droplets of water fell from the ceiling above and plopped as it joined its cousins.
Dorothy followed after Scarecrow as he walked towards the centre where the puddle was. The floor was tilting slightly downwards and Dorothy could feel the slippery floor attempting to trip her.
“Don’t come too close, Dorothy,” Scarecrow said as he knelt on one knee.
The puddle looked shallow but strangely Dorothy could not see the floor below it.
“I won’t fall in,” Dorothy said, as she watched Scarecrow pick up a rusty chain that trailed into the water.
“I’m not afraid of you falling, I’m afraid you might be pulled in,” Scarecrow replied and began pulling the chain.
“What do you mean by that?”
“It’s best you do not know,”Scarecrow replied.
Dorothy did not ask further as she watched him pull the chain from the deep puddle. When the chain was nearing its end, Dorothy saw a chest peeking out of the water. Naturally, she went forward to give Scarecrow a hand but he snapped, “Don’t!”
Just as his voice bounced off the chamber’s wall, Dorothy heard a flapping of wings.
“Did you hear that?” Dorothy immediately asked.
There was another tunnel connected to the chamber, but darkness had swallowed it whole. Dorothy was staring intensely, hoping to see a bird, but when Scarecrow dragged the chest up to her feet, she gave up.
Looking down, she saw a square chest wrapped with chains. There was also a lock holding the rusted metal together and Scarecrow unlocked it with a key from his pocket. When the chest was free from its metal bounds, Dorothy quickly opened it.
“There’s no rush,” Scarecrow said.
Dorothy was not in a rush because of excitement, she was in a rush because she felt extremely uneasy. Something was watching them and she could not see what. Pushing her fear briefly aside, Dorothy focused on the items in the chest.
There were two sacks; one slightly bigger than the size of her palm, and the other was the size of a fat book. Opening the bigger sack, Dorothy found her trusted whip. The handle and the long tough leather string were still in good shape. Moving on to the next sack, Dorothy found it full with cookies and candies. They were in colourful wrappings and labelled with different words.
“I bet you can’t find candy like that anywhere else, eh?” Scarecrow said with a chuckle.
“Oh yes, no such flavours at home,” Dorothy replied as she hung her sack and whip onto two small hooks at the sides of her corset.
“Ready to go?” Scarecrow asked.
“Let’s get out of here,” Dorothy said.
As they began retracing their steps, Dorothy took one last look at the dark tunnel, and when she saw nothing she silently convinced herself it was just her imagination.
She was wrong, of course. The flapping wings echoed down the opposite tunnel and slipped out into the neighbouring town. It belonged to a raven unlike any other. There were strange markings on its feathers and it flew straight for Emerald City.
The raven’s destination was the windowsill of the New Queen’s chamber, and when the New Queen saw it, she let it in. Immediately, it spread its wings and transformed into the New Queen’s guard.
“This magic is powerful indeed,” the New Queen said as she rubbed the diamond on her finger.
“It is, your highness,” the guard replied with a bow.
“Now tell me, who is this intruder?”
“Her name is Dorothy. She is with a man. He gave her a whip and a sack of candy,” the guard reported.
“A sack of candy?”
“Yes, your highness.”
“Must have a sweet tooth,” the New Queen paused to take a seat before continuing, “catch this Dorothy and bring her to me. I want to see how sweet she is.”