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The Sword of Oz

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The Sword of Oz

Postby shadowbooks » Thu Feb 01, 2007 9:27 am

Hi everyone

I have just released a new interactive ebook prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz. It is similar to the old choose-your-own-adventure style books and I thought I might try and get some opinions on the prologue.

I hope you enjoy and if you want to keep reading/start playing pop over to www.NextGenBooks.com

Take care,

Darren


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The Sword of Oz - Prologue

by Darren Reid

(c)2007, All Rights Reserved


Daedric, the Bird Prince, swooped and soared, dived and glided, drifted and danced upon the wind. High above the dark woods in which he had grown up the air was crisp and sweet, cold and refreshing. Wind ruffled through his feathers and he let out a delighted cry of exhilaration. Up here, Daedric was free.

It was easy to forget his problems so high above Oz. Below him the dark wood stretched out for miles in every direction concealing within its mass of twisted, bitter old trees, more creatures and monstrosities than could be counted. Normally Daedric feared nothing, or at any rate, very little. But there was one creature above all others that sent a frozen bolt of terror through his heart.

A sudden up current of wind sent him soaring and fright gripped his majestic body. But the instant of fear passed soon enough and once again Daedric was free to soar in peace.

Far below him, the Witch of the dark wood was moving.

She moved in a flash of death black robes and putrid green skin. Boils and warts rippled over her ancient body and from under a heavy hood emerged a long, bent nose. The trees clawed out at her jealously, their old and brittle branches occasionally scraping the hood which obscured her face, exposing just a little more of her horrid form to the world. For the most part the Witch ignored these insults.

Small creatures upon hearing, seeing or sensing the Witch (for the creatures of Oz were as prone to sensing witches as they were to seeing them) darted into burrows or under root or high into the sky. It was as if they believed that the Witch would destroy them for simply having the audacity to exist. And on other days their fears may have been justified, but not this day.

The woods were utterly silent.

The only noises that dared break the calm were those made by the trees as they chattered amongst themselves or snatched out at the Witch as she passed among them.

Though the trees had been pestering her for most her entire journey, the Witch had not, until now, deemed to notice. Far more important matters occupied her mind but the constant harassment was beginning to prove distracting. Trees, it must always be remembered, see the world in a profoundly different way to most all other creatures. And where smaller animals scampered, fluttered and burrowed away from the approaching witch, the trees reached out and abused her.

The Witch, tiring of their antics, raised one arm. From within layers of a black sleeve emerged a rakish hand. Fire and ice danced between her fingers tips before fading into nothingness. For an instant the woods were once again silent.

The tree which had last snatched at the Witch again dared to strike the wicked creature.

A smooth, blue fire rippled up the tree's trunk, engulfing the ancient bulk in flame which burned slowly and painfully into its core. The tree did not die quickly and it certainly did not die easily. Around it, other trees leaned as far from their burning kinsman as such creatures could manage though several of the closest also caught fire.

After the fires had burnt themselves out the remaining trees shuddered fearfully, dislodging a few brittle, autumn leaves in the process. But the Dark Witch had long since passed having spared the chaos she had created little more than a single backwards glance. Conspiratorial whispers passed through the forest and for a long while no other tree dared torment the Witch as she passed on her journey. At last the trees were beginning to sense the true danger in the creature that passed through their midst, wrapped in the robes a black as death.

She moved for hours, undisturbed and wrapped in her thoughts until she came upon a small group of the Munshee. The small party was armed with a few makeshift weapons though none among the group wielded them with any certainty. They wore a few ancient pieces of armour from an age so long past that almost no memory of it remained. Standing at the head of the ragtag band stood a figure that the Witch was more than familiar with.

Firgit's armour was the most polished and well maintained and looked almost as if it had been manufactured in the last thousand years. He wore a short sword at his side and a faded red cape billowed out behind him every time the wind stirred. The Witch's breath caught, half way between a gasp of horror and a laugh of utter delight.

He thought he was a Redcape! The Witch tasted bile at the back of her throat. Such a foolish creature! The Redcapes were gone, along with their magic and any strength they may once have possessed. But if anyone would dare put on the mantle of the ancient Wizard-warriors, it would be Firgit. The Witch almost felt sympathy for the poor misguided creature but it soon faded. Firgit, for all his stupidity, could have donned that ridiculous cape for only one reason. To stand against her.

The Witch chuckled at the pathetic army he had raised to stand against her. Perhaps five, possibly as many as six scantily armoured companions accompanied the foolish Firgit. Fools, one and all.

Without delay the Witch crossed the small mound that separated her from the small band. The short figures turned, baring their weapons at her with shaking hands and tear filled eyes. Only Firgit himself moved without fear and showed any degree of bravery upon his face. In a single fluid motion he unsheathed his short sword and bore it proudly before him.

“Firgit, you show more courage than I've come to expect from your kind,” declared the Witch in a voice of tortured lightning.

“And you've shown less than I would expect even from you, Witch .”

Firgit took a cautious step closer to the Witch. Like most of his people he was smaller than the Witch, perhaps as tall as a young adolescent. In spite of this his face was cold and wizened and told the story of many long years. His short sword did not waver in his grip.

“You wear the mantle of the Redcapes,” the Witch observed coolly, “How foolish.”

“Do not try your word tricks on me, Witch. I know of your plans. And we brothers stand against you.” At this the few other members of Firgit's army passed nervous glances among one another, their motley collection of spears, lances and clubs shaking in their hands.

At last the Witch replied, “You dare such insolence, Munchkin ?”

Firgit said nothing and instead swung his short sword in front of him in an elaborate display. The Witch stared from out of her cowl through furious eyes which blazed at the miniscule army.

“When you fall,” she said in a rasping whisper, “there shall be none to remember you. You will fade so utterly into the night that even the moon will shun your memory.”

“Then we shan't fall,” replied Firgit, seemingly oblivious to the blind panic passing among his companions. To die in Oz, to truly die, is to be forgotten.

“You will be annihilated!” the Witch screeched. Firgit acted as if he had not heard the terrible words.

“For Pastoria,” he cried over the trailing whisper of the Witch's wail, “The true King of Oz . ”

Before the Witch could respond Firgit burst forward, his short sword raised high above his head. The remaining members of his party followed him with varying degrees of enthusiasm, their own weapons bared as menacingly as they could manage.

Firgit was the first to reach the Witch and he swung his blade at her with the true abandon of a hero, but he was also the first to fall.

With effortless ease the Witch sidestepped the diminutive warrior and, as he stumbled off balance, struck out at him. Her fingers graced the top of his skull and deep, deep magic passed through his body. He crumpled instantly, his eyes all ready glazed and blank, his sword in free fall. With a single gesture beams of magic erupted from the Witch's old body felling one of Firgit's party after another. The wood was alive with the sound of falling weapons and of the dull, terrible sounds of death. In an instant all had passed and the Witch stood, triumphant, amid the still bodies of the Munshee army that had been raised to destroy her. The Munchkins. Pitiful creatures.

The trees passed hushed whispers amongst themselves and a great oak with a broken and split trunk gestured to the Witch. Curious, she stepped over the bodies to the tree.

Alone and shivering among the tree's roots lay the huddled form of a Munshee survivor. He was young and not yet fully grown, and therefore terribly short. His head was covered in matted blonde hair and when he finally turned to face the Witch his wide blue eyes were stained with bitter, bitter tears. Unable to speak, he stared aimlessly at his captor.

“What is your name, Munchkin ?” The Witch demanded.

“A…A…Aralax,” the terrified soul chattered, “and I'm a Munshee,” he corrected.

The Witch simply laughed and smiled wickedly down at the sole survivor of the battle, “no, Aralax, you are a Munchkin, you are my Munchkin.”

Aralax simply stared at the Witch, his wide eyes showing both fear and confusion.

“Come, Aralax,” the Witch whined, turning away from him, “I am in need of a servant boy and you shall do just fine, I expect.”

From behind her Aralax dared to protest, “But I've a family, a home. Please, I want to go home.”

“Oh,” the Witch chuckled, “You have none of those things now, my dear Munchkin. You are the last survivor of this… army. And if I kill you do you know what happens?”

The Witch turned, blazing eyes focused onto her victim. Aralax shook his head, fresh tears spilling down his cheeks as he did so.

“Why, their memory dies…with you. You understand now, don't you, my dear Munchkin.”

Eyes filled with nothing but horror, Aralax nodded slowly.

Without turning to make sure he followed, the Witch strode into the darkness of the woods. Behind her, Aralax was left to stumble in pursuit, tripping over roots and being hit by an inordinate number of branches and twigs.
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Postby clknaps » Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:08 am

Quite a pleasant read, I enjoyed it, thank you. CLK
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Postby Bread Butterbeard » Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:42 pm

Splendid job my friend.
"The world you know is over Grandmaster Shard, will you stand and fight for your people, or let them slip into darkness?" Tartikoff Greenwood to Brayan James Shard

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