Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Thirty-One

Glitch was relieved beyond words to be on the final leg of the trek back to the Palace at Central City. The wait at Quelala Fortress had been nerve wreaking at best, made worse when General Olson had arrived. The military commander and DG had seriously butted heads over the fact that the Princess had sullied her hands with running a military operation and winning it. DG's lofty response of "what good is magic if I don't use it to help my people" only set the General to spluttering. Glitch was forced to occupy Cain with anything that came to mind because the General's spluttering at DG made the Tin Man's hand go to his holstered gun.

And if he wasn't worried about Cain shooting the General, he had to worry about someone else letting slip the Princess was married. Jeb's unit had been persuaded that the Fae were easily confused over who's in charge, but they were romantic softies that heartily approved of the Princess and their captain's father and wanted to show it. Even DG had gotten alarmed when a couple of plates full of Ozian aphrodisiac foods had ended up in front of just her and Cain.

As soon as Chelsea and Hal had been brought back from the Viewer village and Lyle was well enough to travel, DG agreed to take the carriage General Olson so thoughtfully brought with his unit and head back to Central City post haste. They were on their second day from the Northern Guild territories, and would reach Central City by midmorning.

He shifted what Zack called a notebook on his lap, grateful for the paper as strange as it looked. DG's way of dealing with her nervous energy was to make plans. You couldn't tell that meeting with her mother would make her nervous by her voice, but every so often she would press against Cain's side a little harder. Her husband would squeeze his arm around her shoulders a little tighter when she did, but otherwise didn't move from his slouch against the carriage window and he kept his hat down to hide his eyes.

Glitch tapped the pen against his lips. "DG, his name is Lord Liverpool, not Lord Livestock."

"He better be glad I don't call him Lord Asshole after his bright idea. Do I look like a brood mare?"

"You can't pay me to walk into that one," Zack said from his seat at the other end of Glitch's bench. Raw rumbled an agreement from where he lay on the carriage floor.

"I agree Lord Liverpool needs to go," and his name was written in Glitch's notes, "but if you make all his cronies leave the council, we're only left with six members. It's the six members with the important jobs, but still you're supposed to have twelve."

"You would make seven," she pointed out reasonably. "And they sided with Lord Livestock. I can make mess of the Zone all by myself; I don't need idiots to help me do that faster."

"You're gonna do fine," Cain drawled from under his hat.

Glitch added his name to the approved Council list with a small pleased smile. "But you still have five seats open."

DG bit her bottom lip. "Do we have any Viewers, Fae, or lawn gnomes on it?"

Lyle lifted his head from off Zack's arm. "Gnomes? You can't trust the gnomes."

"She means Munchkins, 'lawn gnomes' is her Other Side nickname for them," Glitch explained.

"Oh, they're okay. Not allergic to eggs." His head drooped back against Zack and Glitch looked at the Slipper alarmed. Zack raised his eyebrows and shrugged as much as he was able.

"They totally earn it with their fashion sense, the multi-colored turkeys."

"Are you sure you not still bitter about the cage?"

DG shot him a look. "You still haven't told me what you were doing in there."

"No Viewers ever on Queen's Council," Raw said from the floor, thankfully changing the subject.

"The other peoples of the O.Z. would usually send ambassadors to represent their needs to the Queen," Glitch explained to DG's curious look.

She shook her head. "They live here, they deserve a say."

"Why not just let them get voted into Parliament too?" Zack suggested.

"Moving too fast. Central City already has a democracy in place and that's been copied by a few other towns. But it won't do to have the minorities that don't understand it yet to get voted out."

"Two seats on the Council left."

She grinned. "Okay, Parliament can fill them. One from the House of Lords and one from the House of Commons, and then they can't say they don't have the ear of the Queen. Twelve seats. What's next?"

"What do we do with young Lord Gillikin?"

"Well, Tutor's not going to be in charge of his education. I like the kid too much to inflict that on him."

"He's a little young for formal lessons," Glitch reminded her, cocking his head to consider the boy trying to climb over Raw. "But he is the right age to have a governess."

"Okay, Chelsea's hired."

"What?" The brown-haired girl's eyes took up most of her face. She stared at Glitch and then back at the young woman who sat beside her. "But I'm just a chambermaid, I can't! I wouldn't know what to do."

DG reached over and squeezed her hand. "Chelsea, you love him. You're loyal and you're brave. Those are the first things he should learn about life, and there's nobody better for the job than you. And if anybody says different, Wyatt shoots them."

Glitch waited for DG's giggle to show that was a joke. It didn't come. Now DG was looking at his expression, puzzled at his mouth working and no sound coming out. Words would probably help. "Cain can't just shoot people."

"That's my job, Zipperhead. They disagree with DG, I'll take care of it," came from under the hat.

"You can't just shoot people!" Glitch repeated, feeling a misfire in the process. Cain only lifted his hat and cocked an eyebrow at him, silently confirming that yes he could and yes he would. Cripes, how the hell could they keep him away from the gun before he caused a diplomatic incident?

Before he could think of an idea, the carriage swept through the separate outside gate the Palace had in the Central City wall and pulled to a stop in front of the main entrance. Zack poked Lyle in the side. "Okay, time to stay awake now."

"Do I have to?" It was hard to believe that the whiny kid now talking was responsible for so much destruction. He was just another kid, until you looked into his eyes. Glitch shook his head as he climbed out of the carriage behind DG.

"Just until you find out where your bedroom is," Zack answered Lyle. "So you don't scare the mundanes."

"I wasn't talking out of time again, was I?"

"Not yet."

Their group trudged up the steps and through the carved ivory doors. Azkadellia rushed across the emerald green marble floor to greet them in the main hallway. "Ambrose! DG!" DG gave him a shove forward, so he caught Az's embrace first. She smiled up at him and a blush tinted her pale cheeks. He couldn't resist planting a kiss right on her lips, then whirling her around to face her sister. She stopped short, straightening her back as her brown eyes stared at DG. "Your magic," she finally whispered.

DG held out her arms. "It's okay, Az. It's dark, not evil. You and me should know the difference."

Az nodded and gave her a quick hug and then looked over all of them. "Your group got bigger."

DG shrugged. "I think we got room for them in this place. Heck, I could fit the whole farmhouse from Kansas in my rooms alone. Where's Mother?"

Az sighed as her shoulders slumped. "She's in a meeting with the Council. I told her when you were coming and you wanted to talk to her, but she just brushed it off."

Glitch sighed. And just like that, they were back to the status quo. DG was not to be seen or heard unless it was on Galinda's schedule. He looked at her, used to seeing the sadness and disbelief at these brush offs in her bright blue eyes, but the angry defiance she had now was new.

Az bit her lip, watching DG. "Maybe it would be better to wait for lunch," she offered hesitantly.

"Nope. I'm done with the waiting. Time to start doing what I do best." DG rocked a little on her heels as she pulled the Emerald of the Eclipse out of her jacket pocket and hung it around her neck. "Can you get Chelsea, Hal, Zack, and Lyle set up in rooms near mine?" Az nodded and DG turned to them. "I'll see you guys later."

Zack grinned as he propped Lyle up. "Give 'em hell, Xena."

Glitch sighed as Az led the children away. "Are you sure you want to do this now?"

DG frowned. "Death of the O.Z., remember?"

Maybe he shouldn't have been so blunt by their campfire. DG was already stalking down the hall that led to the Council chambers. So he only had one more warning to deliver before they met their fates in there. He put his finger under Wyatt Cain's nose. "No shooting!" The blond man smirked at him before walking around him to follow his wife. Cripes, what had they unleashed upon the O.Z. by letting them get married? He hurried after them and Raw.