Undead Oz: An Excerpt

With the release of the Undead Oz coloring book, I thought this might be a fine time to show off another excerpt from the original.  Gives you a little insight into some of the characters you’ll be laying pencil or pen to!  Jump in as Dawthy and her new-found companions have an encounter with the Wicked Lich of the West.

But stories must have obstacles, or they aren’t worth the telling.  Not to mention, in her bliss, she’d quite forgotten the Lich, who had not forgotten her.

So again they drifted along on their quest, in a limbo of endless day, no idea how many hours were passing, and at long last, in the heart of millions of colorful wildflowers, they found themselves at a four-way intersection.

“Gosh, what now?”  Dawthy stood in the very center, and turned around a few times, staring off as far as she could in each direction, until she wasn’t even sure which direction they’d come from.

Thatcher took off his hat (still charred, little flakes of soot drifted from it) and scratched his head.  “I don’t suppose Wollinda told you what to do if we came across something like this?”

“No.  Don’t you know which way to go?”

“I’ve never been to the City of Shattered Opals before,” he admitted.   “I was created in some little outlying township, and that so long ago I couldn’t tell you where that might be, either.”

“I have always lived in and around the forest,” said Monk.  “I’ve never been to any city.”

“I was made in the City, and brought through it,” said Tinna.  They all looked to her expectantly, and she suddenly got shinier all about the place where people have cheeks; it was her way of blushing.  “I didn’t see very much beyond the back of the lorry I was chained to,” she admitted.  “Lots of people, and lots of buildings, and then gates.”

“Beyond the gates!  What do you remember beyond the…”

Before Thatcher could finish, there was a horrible, ground-shaking explosion, and the four were thrown in every direction.  Tinna landed with a racket of clanging.  Thatcher’s landing was nearly soundless, but he was forced to pat out several smoking patches on himself.  Dawthy and Monk rolled as they fell, which absorbed some of the impact, but both were going to carry bruises for days.

In the center of the intersection, where they’d all been standing moments ago, was a vast cloud of red smoke.  Dawthy, still on the ground, scrabbled backward, as she realized she was the only one here who had to breathe and therefore the only one likely to suck some of it into her lungs.

The smoke cleared, and the Lich stood before them.

She couldn’t say how she knew, as he was merely a skull, and should not be capable of facial expression, but he was furious. 

No, not his face.  The rage burned from his body, surrounding him in feverish heat.

“You did not heed my warning,” he boomed.  This time his jaw did move as he talked, underlining his words with a clack clack clack.  “But you have not taken the irreversible step, and so you get one last chance.”

“I won’t!” Dawthy yelled in defiance.  “I won’t leave Utoh!  It isn’t fair!”

“It is fair, foolish girl.  Unlike life, death is delightfully fair and impartial.”  The Lich turned to face her and her alone, and she saw gleaming points of light, like tiny fireplace embers, in his sockets.  “All things must die in their time, and that is not for you to undo.”

“In their time!  Is it his time because a mean, hateful, old woman attacked him in anger?”

“Yes, if that is how Fate decrees he must die.”  For a moment, the Lich sounded almost sympathetic.  “You may not like the manner of his passing, but Fate cannot cater to everyone’s whims, and sometimes death is violent.”

Monk had scrambled through the flowers with his bony limbs and was crouched down beside Thatcher; Tinna had been blasted right off her wheels and was somewhere on the other side of the intersection. 

“Probably caught on her back like a turtle,” thought Monk.  To Thatcher, he said, “Who’s him?  Who’s him?”

“Dawthy’s got a Lich mad at her,” the straw golem explained.  “He’s a nasty thing, like most Liches, but he hasn’t truly hurt us.  Not yet.”

“Does he eat lions?”

“What do you care?  You’re a people, now.”

Meanwhile, Dawthy went right on arguing with the Wicked Lich, all her fears forgotten in her steadfast belief that she was right.

“I don’t believe that, I don’t!  Utoh didn’t have to die, and not like that, at any rate!  He deserves a second chance…”

“If you try to give him that second chance, I will be forced to come after you.”  With his left hand, he drew his six-shooter, and Dawthy took a step back.  His right hand he raised in the air, and with a sound rather like schnick and a flash of red light, his entire forearm and hand changed into what looked like a bone blade.  He began to wisk it about menacingly.

“She’s just a little girl!” Monk cried, scrambling to his feet.

“Which is why I am giving her a second warning.  She does not understand the ramifications of her actions.”

Monk’s eyebrows popped up a tiny bit.  “You use some very big words.  Ramble vacations?”

“Do I?  Perhaps I need to make things simpler.  Everyone, everything dies.  The living may save a life, but it is not their place to restore it.  Is that clearer for you?”

“Wollinda said you wouldn’t let Utoh go because his spirit gives you power, so don’t make it sound like I’m the one doing something bad!”

For a split second, the Lich actually looked sad.  The red lights within his sockets glowed like tiny yellow suns, and Dawthy swore she saw steam come from the big sinus opening.

The he turned away from her, and faced the north, from where they’d come.  He gave a sorrowful shake of his head before turning back to them.

“Last chance.”  He gave a swishing wave of his sword arm, and about fifty yards back up the road, a glowing red oval appeared.

Monk gasped.  Thatcher went, “Oh my, oh my.”  Tinna made some sort of revving noise from somewhere in the flowers, although it might have been her trying to get upright.

“That portal will take you directly home.  It will stay there for 2 days, which is more than enough time to make the proper decision and leave here.  If you return home through that portal, it will be as if you never left.  Only a few minutes will have passed since you sassed your aunt and uncle and ran out of the house.”

Dawthy blushed.  She felt worse than ever about how she’d spoken to them, and knew that she would do anything to make it up when she returned home, but she still was not ready to go yet.  It was so embarrassing that the Lich even knew about that!

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