Tin Man: Dragons and Ninjas

Chapter Thirty-Three

"And Glitch is going to sit on the Council right now, so he can catch us up after the honeymoon," DG finished explaining what had happened in the closed door meeting with the Queen.

"So did you have to explain what PTSD is?" Zack asked DG. Cain kept his arms wrapped around her as they reclined on the settee in her sitting room. Lyle was curled up on another couch nearby, since he had developed a case of narcolepsy after becoming human again. Zack sat in an armchair angled to keep an eye on the boy. DG had invited them to her rooms to eat, knowing Lyle wasn't ready to meet her whole family.

DG caressed the back of Cain's hand. "Actually, I didn't, well, other than updating terminology. Ahamo knew a couple of Vietnam vets before coming here and had been telling her about the symptoms under 'shell shock.' But we also have at least five hundred years of 'dark magic equals evil' for her to get over. Even I got caught up in it."

"Those in the O.Z. without magic aren't going to care," Cain said. "And I already promised to set them straight if they do."

"Let's see if she comes around on her own before I have to sic my scary Tin Man on her."

"And they're cool with the wedding?" Zack tucked his legs into the armchair cross-legged style.

DG shrugged and snuggled, pressing more into Cain. "They're not happy with the circumstances, but are willing to let it go since they are getting the reception ball thingy." Cain shuddered and she patted his hand. "And Jeb's unit is on the invite list, so it won't be us miserable with a whole bunch of snotty nobles. Plus I think they're so thrilled I'm actually tied down, they aren't fighting on the honeymoon on the Other Side issue." She pouted, "And I was looking forward to zapping somebody about it."

Zack snorted. "I'm sure you'll get a chance when they get started on the have a baby theme."

She shushed him. "Not so loud! You'll give them ideas and then I will have to zap them. And then Wyatt will shoot them."

Cain smirked into her hair, inhaling the apple blossom scent the clung to it. "You don't want kids, Darlin'?"

"Not what I said." Her elbow hit his stomach lightly. "The Council has been way too interested in my biological clock than should be healthy, and what makes it their business any way? Regardless, I doubt they want be sporting bullet holes, so really I'm looking out for them."

Cain's smirk melted into a smile at her. Lyle rolled over on the couch to face them. "I'm so glad I'm on the side of the family that doesn't have to worry about the throne."

"And what did you get in return?" Zack smirked. "Having to make sure a whole bunch of universes don't deviate from the master plan doesn't sound like a fair trade off to me."

"It's more behind the scenes work, less getting caught up in the games mortals like to play. Though it was fun to watch Zoe and Aunt Zelda lock horns over where Zorden fits on the inheriting the throne chart."

"Geez, is there anything left of Hyrule?"

"Uncle Link intervened before it got that far. Poor Zorden's on the list after Kevin and Kela's hypothetical kids, but Zoe's raising her out in what Aunt Zelda calls no man's land. And I don't know what she threatened the twins with, but they both scrambled to Mom to find out if getting married and having kids was in their future." Lyle yawned. "I'm so glad it's not my problem."

DG sighed melodramatically and craned her neck to look at Cain. "And this is what we have to look forward to as royalty?"

He shrugged. "Every family is different. Just remember, our kids will probably be able to zap you back." She giggled.

"So where on Earth are you going for your honeymoon?" Zack turned back to DG and Cain.

"What about New York City?" Cain smirked at Zack's raised eyebrows. "For at least part of it."

"DG, tell me you're not planning on taking a tornado to New York City? I mean, it's not that I don't want you to visit, but the locals will notice that."

Before DG could answer, Lyle spoke up sleepily. "Tornado? Oh travel storm. Why are you using those when you have the silver slippers?" He blinked and sat up looking at the confused expressions on both DG and Cain's faces. "Sorry, talking out of time again. I have got to get a better handle on that. But I can take you to New York once I'm back to normal."

"Then we could take a travel storm back from Kansas. They don't stick out as badly over there," DG said.

"Kansas?" Zack laughed. "You want to go back to Kansas?"

"Wyatt wants to see where I grew up," she said indignantly. "And I'd like to see if the house survived the Longcoats and the travel storm."

"What do you mean by talking out of time?" Cain asked slowly. Lyle's eyes when they looked directly at you were a little unnerving. And he thought nothing could faze him any more.

"I don't see time like mortals do," Lyle sighed. "Sometimes I get mixed up as to what is part of the present. I've gotten better though. When I was learning how to talk, the palace staff nicknamed me the prophecy kid. I was at least a week ahead of everyone else."

"In this case, I think you were in the past," Cain said. "There's a legend of the silver slippers, but they've been gone for a long time."

"I think I saw them," DG said in a low voice. She twisted to look at Cain's astonished face. "The first Dorothy Gale, she was wearing a pair of shiny shoes." That was all it took really. The next morning had the two of them riding out to the Royal Mausoleum, and nothing he could say could dissuade DG from going.

The last bit of the ride around the mountain lake jabbed at Cain unexpectedly. The last time they had rode here worry and fear that something horrible had happened to DG nearly ate him alive. And then the leaving was a race against the suns. She had told them later after the defeat of the witch what had happened, but they hadn't come back. If those memories gnawed at him, how were they affecting DG?

When they finally stopped riding on the small plateau above the lake, he took her horse's reins from her hands. DG barely noticed him doing it. Her expression was so far away. He tied the horses to a tree, and came back to his wife. "DG?"

She jumped slightly, and shook her head ruefully. "I didn't think we'd be back here so soon." She caught his hand and pulled him up the hill to the tree line. "It's this way."

He saw the shimmering golden outline of doors in the trees for a brief moment before they swung open. His other hand curled around his gun grip as DG pulled him through them.

She led him into a three-story space of carved, grey and white marble. Only one of the upper windows was at the proper angle to let the sunlight inside, but the staggering of windows on the third story would let the light in no matter what the position of the suns were. A statue of a former queen stood gracefully in a niche backlit with an emerald glow. The center of the floor was circled off by a guardrail. Cain stepped over to it. A stone staircase hugged the wall of crypts into the depths of the earth. The royal line of the O.Z., going back beyond Ozma the Great. He shook his head to get rid of the slightly dazed feeling and turned back to DG.

Her gaze focused on the green marble coffin to their right, the open green marble coffin, he noticed with a pang. "DG," he said softly before pulling her against his chest. "It's alright, I'm here."

She shuddered and pressed her pale face against his chest as she hugged him. "I thought I'd be over this by now."

"It's alright," he kissed the top of her head. "Take as long as you need." He ran his hand down her back.

It took a few minutes, but she finally took a deep breath and pulled back. "The Grey Gale is over there." She pointed across the guardrail to a set of white double doors. He led her around to the left, avoiding the coffin, and kept his hand on her back.

'Dorothy Gale' was cast on a metal plate screwed onto the gable above the doors. There were no knobs, only two metal plates with the symbol of the House of Gale embossed upon them. As DG approached, the symbol glowed just like the mark on her hand used to. The doors swung in revealing a bright white light.

DG headed toward it. Cain caught her hand. "Not without me, Princess."

"Never." She squeezed it with a smile. They walked into the light which flashed around them. He blinked, and saw they were standing on the Brick Route close to Milltown only all the color had been leached away from the landscape. DG and he were all that still looked normal. But DG twisted around with a puzzled frown, not letting go of his hand. "It didn't look like this before."

"It's different for everyone," said a young girl's voice behind them.

Cain whirled around and tried to put DG behind his back, but she slipped forward to his side. The grey girl with her dark hair plaited into two pigtails looked slightly younger than DG. She wore an old-fashioned plaid dress straight out of the history books and a pair of sparkling shoes that didn't fit with the simplicity of the rest of her outfit. "Hi Dorothy," DG said with a smile.

"Did you stop the witch?" Dorothy asked with a far too serious gaze on her young face.

"Yeap, she melted."

This made the ghost girl smile. "They always seem to do that." Dorothy looked at Cain, and he felt like he was getting pinned by a superior. "You're the first to bring your consort here."

"I will get better at introductions, I swear. Wyatt Cain, Dorothy Gale."

He tipped his hat, "Ma'am."

"Welcome."

It was so quiet and still here, he was almost afraid of disturbing it. DG, however, didn't have that fear. "Aren't you lonely here?"

Dorothy's smile grew wider. "You're going to make a great queen, one of the finest the O.Z. has ever had. You care about people." DG shuffled her feet uncomfortably. "My loved ones are here. You can't see them because you came to see me." Dorothy tilted her head slightly. "But that's not why you are here."

"We came to ask about your shoes, the silver slippers." DG pointed at Dorothy's feet.

Dorothy picked up her foot and considered it. "These are just copies made from my memories. You have the real ones." DG shook her head slowly. "They were sent to Kansas with you, to help protect you and to keep them from the witch."

DG still looked bewildered, staring at the silver slippers as if trying to place seeing them before on the Other Side. Cain decided to speak before she said something derogatory about her parents in front of the Grey Gale. "Another detail your nurture units didn't tell you,  Sweetheart?"

"Yeah, well, Longcoats were shooting at us. There probably wasn't time to get them from their hiding place." DG sighed, "Mom said it wasn't going according to the plan."

"The silver slippers belong in the O.Z." Dorothy's smile had vanished. "Your magic is strong, but you will need their magic with the Emerald of the Eclipse to repair the damage the witch did and to protect the O.Z."

"We're going to the Other Side," Cain said. "We'll find them."

Dorothy nodded, and turned as if to leave them. "Wait," DG said quickly. "Adsaluta said I should talk to you about my magic."

"You're not afraid of it now."

"She said you understood the duality."

Dorothy nodded. "What you discovered between you and your sister, Ozma and I also shared, once the slippers awoke the dark magic latent in me. Those with the light tend to suffer more without the dark to protect them."

"No one's going to hurt Azkadellia ever again," DG vowed.

"May your reign be long and just, DG." The Grey Gale turned and walked a few steps on the old road before vanishing.

DG sighed and grabbed Cain's hand. "And Zack was worried we'd be bored in Kansas."

"I think I understand why he was so grumpy about not knowing any details." He squeezed her hand as she led them back into the real world.