|Wicked always wins.|
ABC's Once Upon a Time had much promise which went largely unfulfilled over its seven seasons. The writing became progressively more slipshod as the show progressed, with various plot-lines left abandoned almost willy-nilly. Important characters were pushed to the back or tranquilized and tagged and safely suburbanized. The Wicked Witch of the West, Zelena, played by the marvelous Rebecca Mader, was one of them. This story seeks to address the tragic short shrift Zelena was given, and takes place shortly after she meets her "sister" witches from the south, east, and north.
His name is Nathan Vach, and he's having terrifying dreams. Left alone after his father and brothers die in the Second Ogres war, and after his mother perishes from illness, he retreats into his family's big home far from anywhere. But the dreams continue to plague him, so he decides to visit a metaphysician in Munchkinland. There he learns startling news: that he has a gift for someone--a Soul Gift. It's a Gift that will be a great blessing to he or she destined to receive it. Walking home, he has no idea just how powerful that Gift is--or the individual who, unbeknownst to him, will soon try to claim it. Read on!
CONFUSED AND FRIGHTENED
This is a tale about a witch. A wicked witch. Some say she came from the west. But I think she came from Heaven.
This is the story of how we met, of how I fell in love with her. This is the story of my happy ending, and, I pray, hers.
It was that bridge. I never trusted it. Trolls occasionally lurked under it. I have lived long enough in these forests to know that those beasties migrate. They are like birds—big, hairy, bipedal birds that will rob you blind, then cook you alive. That is, after skinning you first. And laughing about it the whole time.
I was there to help clean up the carnage after they attacked the Munchkin Commissioner Keljrad on that very bridge. He won, but not before most of his entourage died, and he too, later, from injuries. It was an impressively gory battle.
I tried not to think of it. Still, it must have been quite a sight—tiny Munchkins and their tiny spears and swords and bows and arrows swarming over those monstrous trolls, and being thrown about like fleas. Or bite-sized beef pot pies, which was how, I was certain, the trolls thought of them.
After that disaster, the Prefect of Munchkinland declared the bridge off limits to his people. He went to Oz to petition the Great Wizard’s support, but the Wizard, apparently, had no interest in lending the Prefect his voice, and off the Prefect went, angered once more with him.
The Wizard of Oz. What a peckerwood.
Anyway, back to that bridge.
I thought of going another route, and in fact had ever since that battle. It was creepy before; now it was just evil.
It was shadowed under the boughs of tremendous fir trees and made of black granite, and arched over a tumbling stream in a minor gorge some forty feet deep. The trolls hid on the bridge’s bottom. They typically flattened themselves against the stone using their inhuman strength, and waited till you were right on top of them. Bastards.
I have the gift of Foresight. Or ... I was supposed to. My mother was a Seer. A really talented one, actually. But she didn’t see the illness growing in her belly, and one day she died. It crushed me. I grew up with my father and two older brothers, all of whom died after being conscripted to fight in the Second Ogres War in the
, which was just a
walk (or in this case, march) through a portal away. Mom wasn’t around to warn
them, and I, supposedly also with the Gift, felt nothing but guilt ever since
that I didn’t foresee their doom and steer them clear of it. Enchanted
Alone, I rattled around in this big house, miles from nowhere, and did my best to stay sane. I was not entirely certain I had been successful.
Forgive me. Where are my manners? My name is Nathan Vach (“Vok”). I’m human, but don’t hold that against me. I think I’m one of the nice ones, rare as we are.
More on “successful.” You see, they weren’t Visions I was experiencing, but something else. They started a few months after my twentieth birthday. I was very confused and frightened by them. They felt totally alien—but also totally familiar. Increasingly panicked, I packed my bedroll and several days’ worth of food, enough to get to Lageb, the nearest village and first stop on my journey, made sure I had my passport, and off I hiked.
My ultimate destination was Echeld, in the heart of Munchkinland, more than a week away. In my case it was closer to eleven days, since I was determined to avoid that damn bridge. A highly regarded metaphysician lived there, and I had plenty of gold to see him. Don’t envy me for that. That fortune came at a tragic cost—losing my entire family.
Long story short ... Oh, hell, I’ll just give you the long version.
I got to Echeld in the late afternoon of the tenth day, booked a bed at the inn (the only one there that accommodated humans), and tried to relax. My father had been highly respected by Munchkins, having supervised the construction of several major civic projects of theirs including this very inn (humans didn’t typically stoop—physically or in any other way—to help Munchkins). I visited Echeld once when I was ten, yet Mr. Dinys, the innkeeper, still recognized me and ordered the help to ready the best room, then insisted after I cleaned up and settled in to feed me at the Carrot Table, which was reserved for human luminaries passing through. I felt thoroughly humbled and red-faced sitting there while other patrons glanced at me and whispered animatedly.
Mr. Dinys’ daughter served me. I was shocked—she was human! After she brought out my soup (which was delicious—beef with barley), I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.
“I’m sorry,” I blurted. “Forgive me ... but you’re human.”
She snickered sweetly. “You noticed.”
I laughed nervously. “I did.”
I hoped she would provide an explanation, but she blushed and hurried off. With some disappointment (for she was quite pretty), I took a spoonful of soup. Delicious. Mr. Dinys appeared soon after and filled my mug with some of his famous ale. It was as good as rumored. After the fourth refill, I was lubricated enough to relax the reins on my mouth.
“Your daughter is quite pretty.”
He was walking away. He stopped and glanced over his shoulder.
I held up my hand. “No offense. I was just commenting.”
He turned to face me fully. “Her name is Brynn. She’s sixteen. We adopted her.” He gave a short bow. “I will convey your compliments.”
“Oh, no,” I started. “Please don’t—”
But Mr. Dinys had turned away and was speaking to a couple at a nearby table.
I finished the cup, dropped more than enough coin on the table to pay for everything and tip the very pretty help, and left for my room.
Once inside, I stripped off my clothes and fell into bed and was asleep instantly. Thankfully, I wasn’t visited by another one of those “visions.”