no place like oz Page 44

I regained my composure. Ozma had taken everything away from me. Everything I cared about or would ever care about. She had taken away Glinda, and my aunt and uncle, and my magic. She had tried to take away my kingdom.

“I am Dorothy,” I screamed back at her.

I closed my eyes and knocked my heels three times, begging the Land of Oz to fill me with darkness and power and all the enchantments it possessed.

It did.

It all came bursting out of me. This time, it was more than magic. It wasn’t just the shoes at work. It was me. It was the reason I had been brought here in the first place. It was the reason I had been brought back again.

It was that wanting I’d known my whole life. All that hope that there was something better out there, something that could be mine and mine alone.

Ozma was no match for it. She’d never felt anything like it, I don’t think. She had all this, and she didn’t even care about it.

But I cared. I wanted. I wanted more. My desire was a tornado that twisted out of my body and danced toward the princess, catching her up in its funnel, lifting her into the air as easily as if she was a feather. She screamed and struggled against it, but there was nothing she could do.

It was no use. She was powerless against me. She may have been the One True Princess, the delicate peach blossom and the blood of whatever-her-name-was, but I was the girl who rode the cyclone, the girl who had slayed the witches. I had been brought here against all odds—not once, but twice. I wouldn’t be denied.

Within the cone of the maelstrom, I watched calmly as Ozma’s dark form began to tear itself apart in a gruesome explosion of black and gold. It was like she was unraveling. Like she was melting.

And then she was gone.

For the third time, Oz had chosen me.

The sky had returned to normal. Everything was quiet. The storm I had summoned faded away into the distance. It was like none of it happened, except that my head was throbbing and all of my limbs were aching in exhaustion.

And the old farmhouse was still standing there, invincible and mostly undisturbed, with my poor aunt’s feet still sticking out from underneath it. I looked away. I couldn’t bear the sight of it.

Then my eyes caught sight of her.

Ozma was lying on the ground, her crown knocked from her head and her scepter ten feet away. Her dress was streaked with blood and dirt and her face was bruised and swollen. But she was breathing.

She sat up and looked around. I took a step forward, ready to keep fighting. Ready to do whatever it took. Then I saw that she was smiling. It wasn’t a normal smile either. It was dazed and vacant and her eyes were empty, like old, tarnished marbles. She looked at me and cocked her head.

“Who are you?” she asked stupidly.

I lowered my arms. “Ozma?”

She giggled an idiotic giggle.

I pointed at her and tried to call up more magic. Just a little bit more, enough to snuff her out once and for all. But all that shot forth from my fingers were a few useless red sparks from my fingertips that faded away as quickly as they had come. I had used it all up, for now, I figured. It would take some time to recharge.

Ozma didn’t seem to understand that I wasn’t exactly her friend. She clapped her hands. “Oh that’s lovely!” she cried. “Do it again.”

Before I could try anything, a high-pitched yipping noise filled my ears.

“Toto?” I spun around.

In all the commotion, I had forgotten about my dog, and when I searched for him, I saw Glinda standing there, right next to the farmhouse.

Her pink dress looked like it was made from the sunset itself; her eyes were kind and gentle. She bent down to pet my Toto, who was bouncing up and down happily at her feet, and when she stood up, she caught sight of me and beamed, picking up the skirt of her dress and racing forward through the grass to greet me.

“Dorothy!” she called, her voice strong and sweet and joyful. “My beautiful, powerful, angry Dorothy. I knew I could count on you, and I was right. Just look how right I was!”

She gestured toward Ozma, who had her arms outstretched and was whirling around, making herself dizzy as she laughed and tripped over herself, oblivious to everything that was going on.

“What did I do to her?” I asked.

“Oh, you did what you had to,” Glinda said with a shrug. “You couldn’t kill her. I don’t think it’s possible to kill her, at least not without destroying Oz. But still, ding dong, as they say!”

Glinda threw her head back and let out a long, melodious chortle.

I was a little confused. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Think of it this way,” Glinda said, when she’d stopped laughing. “You’ve taken Ozma’s power and you’ve given it back to the land. Back to Oz, where it belongs. She was trying to hoard it all for herself, you know—that’s been her goal all along. That’s why she hated me, and why she wanted your shoes so badly. She just wanted to hoard the magic, like fairies always do.”

“I thought the fairies gave Oz its magic.”

“Oh, she told you that old taradiddle, now did she? I’m sure you didn’t believe her. These fairies are greedy little creatures. She just couldn’t stand to see anyone else with even a drop of magic to speak of. You did what you had to. You did what was right. And Oz will thank you for it, someday. For now, you’ll have to settle for my thanks. You saved me, Dorothy. You can’t think of how horrible it was for me to be locked away like that.”

“How did I . . .”