The New Queen took a long and torturous week to prepare for a celebration, but she was not the one being tortured. Citizens of Oz were forced to work under her commands as she turned the green city red. From the floor to the windows, everything changed, everything except the glass walls that is. Even magic was adamant to the change of their colour.
Emerald City was still green outside, but a step through the city gate was like walking into a different realm altogether. The cheerful lampposts were replaced with red lanterns, and the new crimson royal banners hung at every corner. The soldiers were no longer in green and gold, but in red and gold instead. With a city so filled with red and surrounded by green walls, it felt like Christmas had come early. And that was the exact same feel in the giant courtyard, just much less joyful.
The giant courtyard that separated the citizens and the royal palace was a large circular area. A week ago, a giant fountain with dancing lights sat in the centre, but since then a solid gold statue of the New Queen was built in its place. On the day of the celebration, hundreds of tables draped in red cloth were placed around the statue. A long table was also set away from the other tables, where a row of empty chairs faced a grand armchair.
When night finally fell on Oz, the courtyard began to fill in with its citizens. All of them did not want to be there, but it was either death or dinner and everyone preferred the latter. Leaders of the countries scattered around Oz were also invited, and their seats were with the New Queen. Unlike a normal celebration, this one lacked cheers and excitement, and when everyone found their seats, silence fell like at a funeral.
After a few minutes of pin drop silence, the New Queen made an appearance in an elegant red dress. Nobody said anything as she descended the long flight of stairs, passing through the palace gates, to the courtyard. She had a big smile on her face as she waved her hand, flaunting the magical diamond that was now a ring on her index finger.
The New Queen was honestly expecting a cheer from her people, but the lack of it was making her blood pressure rise. Forcing herself to stay calm, she took her seat on the grand armchair and quickly doused her burning desire to curse everyone by clapping twice loudly.
Upon the order, the waiters in red began serving the first dish of the night; rose duck with spicy apple sauce. When she and the honoured guests were served, she turned to them and asked, “How do you like the new look?”
“Wonderful!” one of them said, with fake excitement. He was a thin man in a purple suit.
“Is that your favourite colour?” the New Queen pointed out, without hiding her disgust.
“It’s-it’s the colour of my people, your highness. We Gillikins-”
“I don’t care about you Gillikins,” the New Queen interrupted. She eyed him closely as she waited for an apology, but his tongue was cut short with terror.
Just when she was about to address him regarding his choice of colour, a loud crash came from the end of the table. There sat a man who had wheels as his hands.
“Apologies, your highness,” he said, bowing his head as he did.
“You’re a Wheeler aren’t you?”
He nodded his head furiously in reply. The New Queen thought of questioning his table manners but she spared him the mockery when she saw the female Munchkin. She was only four feet tall and she was wearing a blue dress.
“Is blue the colour of your people?” the New Queen asked as she gave her a cold stare.
Caught off guard, the Munchkin blurted out the best words she could string together at that moment, “Not anymore. We’re changing to red!”
The New Queen responded with an unconvincing chuckle.
The only race at the table that the New Queen did not have an issue with was the pretty Quadling girl. She sat so quietly in her red dress that the New Queen did not notice her there until she was attempting to find fault with all of them. The Quadling also had a ruby bracelet that caught her attention.
“That’s a pretty bracelet, can I have it?” the New Queen asked.
When the Quadling quickly pulled her hand out of sight, the New Queen had an inkling something was up. But instead of forcing the Quadling, she asked once more, “Can I have that lovely bracelet?”
Lost for words, the Quadling was not sure on how to respond. The rest of the people on the table were also watching closely. Their eyes darted from the New Queen to the Quadling while unknowingly clutching onto an item they owned. Almost immediately, the New Queen knew what was going on and there was no reason to play nice now.
Pointing her finger at the unsuspecting Nome, who had his hands wrapped around a jewel on his vest, she lifted him from his seat and high above the ground.
Everyone gasped in horror, as they knew what was about to happen next. Cries were heard and desperate pleas rose from her very own table.
“What were you all planning to do?!” the New Queen demanded, ignoring their terrified voices.
“Nothing, your highness! Nothing!” the Munchkin quickly replied.
“I don’t believe you,” she said, as she released her magic on the Nome. The unfortunate Nome fell to the ground with a loud crack and he did not get up after that. Screams immediately echoed in the courtyard, but fear froze everyone in their seats.
“Bring me his jewel!” the New Queen ordered.
When her guards brought the translucent brown jewel to her, she pressed the top of her ring onto its surface and watched as the brown jewel turned to stone before crumbling into dust.
Turning back to the rest at the table, she pointed her finger at the Quadling and asked in a scarily gentle tone, “Can I have that bracelet?”
There was no hesitation this time as the Quadling clumsily removed the ruby bracelet and placed it in front of the New Queen. Just as she had expected, everyone else at the table followed after the Quadling. The Wheeler took off his belt, the Munchkin took off her earrings, and the Gillikin took off his watch. They placed it before the New Queen, and one by one the diamond ring absorbed the magic in each item.
When dust was all that was left, the New Queen rose to her feet and announced, “Magic is prohibited throughout Oz. Those who are caught using magic will die a horrible death!”
The response to the new decree was silence, and silence was consent.
As the celebration continued in fear, an unauthorized creature found its way into the dungeons of Emerald City.
The tiny fairy with large green wings fluttered towards a floating cage. She was naturally invisible, but she could be visible to those she chose to be. That night, she chose the old witch Glinda.
Glinda was locked in a square cage that was wrapped with dark green thorns. When Glinda saw her, she gripped the bars and said, “Stop.” There was urgency in her voice even though she sounded weak.
The fairy abruptly halted her fluttering wings and looked at Glinda questionably. As though able to read her mind, Glinda said softly, “You can’t save me. This magic is too strong.”
“Then what can I do?” the fairy asked in a squeaky and worried voice.
“Nothing. But…” Glinda paused to gather more strength, and then she continued, “I need you to do something for me.”
“What?” the fairy asked.
“I need you to bring Dorothy back.”