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chapter 9

With her body flat against the wall, Dorothy strained her ears for her cue. She was counting on Toto for a distraction but she did not know what he planned on doing. Still, that was not the first time Dorothy fully counted on her dog.

A few seconds after Toto had disappeared down the corner, there was a bark and a jingle of keys.

“He’s got the keys!” one of the guards shouted.

Heavy footsteps were heard running and Dorothy took the opportunity to see if the coast was clear. The corner led to a split hallway, and when she heard the shouting echoing down the left, she headed to the right.

With only a few torches lit, the hallway was rather dim. Dorothy instinctively walked in the shadows and took her steps cautiously. When she was almost at the end, she saw a flight of stairs leading upwards and to its right was a door.

Light was seeping through the gaps and Dorothy inched closer to take a look. Quietly peeping through the keyhole, she saw a guard sitting by a table and her weapons on one of the shelves. At the thought of needing Toto’s help, the happy dog ran up to her side.

“Good boy!” Dorothy whispered her praise before continuing, “now, I need you to take that guard out.”

Toto wagged his tail in response and Dorothy opened the door as quietly as possible. When the gap was wide enough to fit a fat rat, Toto’s body took on a new form. Within a blink of an eye, Toto’s warm and furry body became cold and scaly. He slithered into the room and then returned to the door shortly after, with his tail wagging faster than before. 

“Good job, Toto,” Dorothy said as she entered the room.

Without wasting any time, Dorothy retrieved her whip and sack. She then poured out the contents of the sack on the table and read all the labels. When she found the one she was looking for, she kept the rest in a hurry. The guards could walk into the room at any moment, and she did not want to be caught looking like herself.

Once the purplish thumb-sized candy was the only one left, Dorothy popped it into her mouth and chewed. Swallowing the sweetness and stuffing the wrapper that read ‘camouflage’ in her pocket, Dorothy reached her hand towards the lifeless guard.

The guard had his feathered face flat on the table and he did not move when Dorothy laid a finger on him. The only thing that happened was a purplish glow travelling from her finger and sweeping across her body. Dorothy saw no changes to her body but she knew it worked; the candy and cookies from her sack always worked.

Leaving the room, Dorothy and Toto climbed up the stairs and exited into another hallway. The palace would have been a maze if Dorothy had not been there before, but with her memories and Toto’s sense of direction, they knew where they were going.

That hallway led to the guards’ quarters and it connected to the palace through a courtyard. It did not take them long before they reached it, and it was there that Dorothy spotted two guards lingering.

“Toto, go small,” Dorothy whispered.

Toto did as he was told and shrunk into a rat. She picked him up and put him in her pocket before she headed towards the guards. As she neared them, her heart began to race. She was well aware that she was in camouflage, but that did not make it easier.

“Going on a stroll?” one of the guards asked her.

“I wish,” Dorothy simply replied, hoping she played her character well.

“Must be boring down there. It’s not like the prisoners can escape,” another guard said.

“Tell that to the queen. I could die just sitting in place,” Dorothy said.

“But at least that’s better than having your head chopped off,” the same guard pointed out and his friend chuckled awkwardly.

“I agree. I better get going before I lose mine, her highness has summoned me,” Dorothy lied convincingly.

“I bet she wants that earthling executed. They’re always causing problems.”

Dorothy wanted to leave them but what he said made her stay awhile longer.

“This one seems pretty harmless though, unlike you know who,” the other added.

“You know who?” Dorothy asked what was meant to be a thought.

“Oh come on, I’m not saying her name. If her highness hears it, she’ll go crazy!”

“You’re right. Well, I better get going,” Dorothy quickly replied and left them.

She did not learn much from the two guards, though she had enough information to know that the New Queen was afraid of another person from earth. But who it was, was still a mystery and Dorothy hoped to find that out in Glinda’s secret library.

As Dorothy entered the palace, she trusted her guts and headed straight to the second floor. The palace was redecorated in such a way that all the hallways looked the same and she had to rely on her memory to find her way. Thankfully, the changes on the walls and floors failed to send her down the wrong path.

When Dorothy finally reached the white doors, she took a quick look around before slipping in. Once inside, Dorothy pulled a heavy armchair behind the door and when she finally turned to see the room, she was in for a shock. Glinda’s chamber was still the same except for the ripped books, broken mirrors, and the torn bed. From the quick glance around the room, Dorothy also spotted the fireplace standing away from the mess.

Watching where she stepped, Dorothy began heading towards it. It was then that she saw her reflection in a broken piece of mirror and she briefly stopped in her tracks. Staring at the guard in her reflection, she saw the veil dropping and her true self showing. Dorothy was no longer in disguise and she could not afford to get caught now. She had made it that far and Dorothy silently prayed the evil magic in Oz would not stand in her way.

Once Dorothy reached the fireplace, she took Toto out from her pocket and he returned to his original tail-wagging form. Dorothy began looking for the orb and when she found it her jaw dropped.

The orb was a globe of Oz stuck in the wall above the fireplace. It did not look like something that could be moved and it was out of her reach to try doing so. Glinda surely did not have a problem turning the orb south when she had a wand, but Dorothy had nothing to her aid.

Hammering her head for a solution, Dorothy did not realize the danger she was in until Toto started barking softly. When she stopped thinking to listen, she heard voices outside the doors. There was no time to make out their words as she picked Toto up and placed him on top of the fireplace.

“Spin the orb, Toto,” Dorothy ordered.

Toto rested his paws on the orb and began pushing downwards. The orb rotated 270 degrees before it locked into place and began to glow. The south was now in the centre of the orb and the fireplace began to move sideways.

When there was enough space for them to enter, Dorothy picked up a candle stand from the nearby table and slipped through. Just as the two entered the darkness, Dorothy felt the walls for a closing switch and when she found one she did not hesitate to pull the lever.

As the fireplace shut tightly behind them, it silenced the world behind it. Dorothy did not know if the guards saw the fireplace closing but she hoped they did not. Reaching for Scarecrow’s matchbox, Dorothy was glad Scarecrow thought it useful. When the little light from the match brought the candle to life, Dorothy found herself standing before a flight of descending steps.

The light could not show her how far she had to go, but she knew she was going in the right direction.Taking a deep breath, Dorothy and Toto began their descent into darkness. Hopefully the revelation they find below would be brighter than the light from their candle. 

Next Chapter: chapter 10