Savage Land of Oz Part 2. Return to the Wicked Witch’s Castle

Our short story based on an actual gameplay of a Wizard of Oz scenario for the Savage Worlds RPG continues from Savage Land of Oz Part 1. Emerald City Blues

The heroes of Oz were nearly exhausted as they came upon the dead Witch’s castle in the night; the structure was a crumbling and forsaken monument to a terrible moment in Oz’s history. It filled all who looked upon it with dread.

In particular, the Lion seemed almost out of his mind with anxiety. His knees buckled. His eyes darted this way and that, seeking any sign of danger.

Even the stoic Tin Man had to will himself to not shake himself into a pile of scrap metal. Only his determination to rescue Dorothy from what he was sure was some terrible fate helped propel him toward the black ruin. They had defeated evil here once before. They might need to do so again.

After a long journey through the hinterlands and the Lion’s forest, the heroes encountered the Winkie detachment camped outside the stone walls. “You see how this magical shield keeps us back from the castle,” the Captain of the group said, pressing his hand against an invisible wall. He tried leaning against it to show how sturdy it was. “We have tried bashing our weapons against it. Nothing works. We can’t get through. Perhaps where we have failed, the champions of Oz can break through?”

“We all admire your bravery in staying in this forsaken place,” the Tin Man said. “Let us do what we can.” The heroes walked over to the barrier and pressed out their hands against it to feel the extent of the transparent wall. It felt like glass, but was obviously far stronger than that to keep back the soldiers.

“Whoah,” Prince Ozra exclaimed, suddenly falling forward, past the invisible wall. The other heroes nearly fell over right after him. The magical shield was breached.

“How did you do that?” Scarecrow asked Prince Ozra.

“I didn’t do anything,” the Prince answered. “It’s just… gone.”

“This is very strange,” the Captain said. “We tried to break through that thing all day.”

“It’s almost like it was waiting for us to arrive,” the Scarecrow said. “Fascinating.”

“Why would it be waiting for us?” Prince Ozra asked.

“I’m sure we’ll find the answer inside,” Scarecrow said.

“Captain, you and your men have fulfilled your duty and are relieved,” the Tin Man said. “You are not to enter the castle. Return to the Emerald City.”

“With respect, Lord Protector, our duty is to come with you,” the Captain said.

“If the Witch or some other magical enemy lies within the castle, mere numbers will make no difference,” the Tin Man said. “Our force will be enough. Go now and tell Queen Ozra we have entered the castle. With luck, we shall return quickly on your heels, with this mystery solved.”

The Captain’s men seemed awfully relieved at not having to go into the castle. Some of them had fallen under the Witch’s spell years ago. They did not want to risk being enslaved once more. They left the heroes to their work.

The Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion and Prince Ozra made their way across the drawbridge and into an open courtyard built with black stone. The tiny white eyes of rats peeked out from little holes in the walls. Robust little thorny weeds adapted to the harshest conditions poked out from some of the cracks in the floor. Passageways and staircases led to the upper levels where three of the companions had earned their legendary reputations 10 years before.

Searching the castle took some time. After nearly an hour, the Lion sniffed something that made him shudder. “There’s something dead up there,” he said.

“I think I recognize this part of the castle,” the Scarecrow said. “If I’m right, the Witch’s old laboratory is up there.”

Prince Ozra’s butt let out a squeaker. “Sorry, fellow heroes. Being scared gives me indigestion.”

“Everything gives you indigestion,” Scarecrow complained.

“Dorothy is somewhere in this castle,” the Tin Man said. “I know it. Let’s get up there and find her.”

The heroes advanced to the laboratory. The door that the Tin Man had broken through with his axe last time they were there was still in pieces on the floor. Dust covered everything, but now it had been disturbed. Something was up here.

“Oh my,” Prince Ozra said, too scared to shout. He had discovered the remains of two flying monkeys that had been chained to the wall and apparently tortured to death. Parts of them had been chopped off. Their chests had been cracked open, revealing that their hearts were missing. Their blood pooled on the floor. Flies buzzed around the corpses.

“Hmm,” Scarecrow said. “That’s interesting.”

“Should we, um, investigate the bodies for clues?” Prince Ozra asked.

“What good would that do?” Scarecrow said. “They’re dead flying monkeys. If you want to rummage around in their guts, be my guest. It’s not going to help.”

“Um, OK,” Prince Ozra said. He felt pretty dumb.

“Oh no!” the Tin Man cried out. “Dorothy!”

The rest of the heroes came rushing over to the Tin Man, who had found a sunken platform decorated with a large pentagram. The hole was riddled with small holes and it turned out to be a giant burner. “You said ‘Dorothy’!” the Lion shouted. “Where did you see her?”

“Look,” the Tin Man said, his voice choking with sorrow. There was a heap of black and gray ash in the centre of the platform. Fragments of material that had somehow managed to avoid the fire that must have been lit here recently judging by the burnt smell. The Tin Man was holding what appeared to be a tiny bit of Dorothy’s dress and a few strands of her hair.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean…” Scarecrow said, his words trailing off.

“She’s dead,” the Tin Man said. Tears began to flow. Without saying a word, Prince Ozra took hold of the Tin Man’s oil can and did what he could to protect his friend from shortly rusting up. The Lion stood next to him, also overcome with grief. Only Scarecrow, who had so carefully cultivated his intellect at the cost of his emotions, restrained himself from openly weeping.

“We must save our tears for later, friends,” Scarecrow said. “Dorothy’s killer may still lurk nearby. We must continue our search.”

With some effort, the heroes pulled themselves together. Prince Ozra made the next discovery as well. “My most honorable royal subjects, I think I’ve found the Wicked Witch of the West’s crystal ball. I’ve seen my sister play with these things a million times. I think I know how to work it…”

“Don’t touch that!” Scarecrow warned. He feared a trap. But Prince Ozra said the magic words to get the crystal to reveal its secrets. Apparently, the walking tub of goo was good for something.

The ball clouded up. When the cloud dissipated a moment later, it revealed a horrible vision. The Emerald City was burning. Smoke rose from its tallest spires, where flying monkeys circled. Meanwhile, in the throne room, Queen Ozra knelt before a figure who had haunted their nightmares for ten years — the Wicked Witch of the West. Her hideous green face sneered at the humbled monarch of Oz. The Witch tapped her broomstick upon the ground and flame erupted all around.

“Who is that next to her?” the Tin Man asked. The Witch was accompanied by Winkie guards with dead expressions on their faces, no doubt enslaved by her magic. But now all noticed a shiny, armored warrior standing near the sorceress.

It seemed to be female, or at least modeled on the female form, though its armor, helmet and swords evoked an impression of a warrior of the Eastern lands. At first, they had mistaken her face for the lower part of her helmet — now they realized this warrior was completely made of metal.

“Do you know her?” Scarecrow asked the Tin Man.

“I’ve never seen her before,” he replied. “But that workmanship looks awfully familiar.”

The Lion roared with growing rage at this horrible spectacle. “Prince, is this a vision of the future or the present?”

Prince Ozra concentrated. “The present, I think… Yes. It’s happening now. That’s really happening to my sister… Oh my.”

By now, the Tin Man’s grief had been replaced by grim determination that his friends knew well. “We must return to the Emerald City as fast as we can. We must end this Witch’s reign quickly, before this evil spreads to all of the Land of Oz. For Dorothy!”

Our story continues in Savage Land of Oz Part 3. King of the Forest?

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