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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 1
Quote:Year 1

Chapter 1: Gem Berries

As Henry and my friends had suggested, I had decided to take a few days off from working on building a new spaceship. I spent the first day off with my friends playing catch at the courtyard and other games such as hide and seek inside the castle. I pretty much enjoyed the free days, though sometimes I still couldn't stop thinking about where to start with the spaceship project. I and Henry had figured out that the first step should be providing electricity to the workshop because we would make modern tools to complete the project, and the tools would not work without electricity. However, I still had no idea what kind of generator would suffice to provide electricity for the project. Coal generator would probably make too much air pollution. Windmill generator would be too dependent on weather, and the same could apply to solar generator, unless we could make the generator capable of storing a large amount of excess energy. I then decided not to think too much about it for then, mainly because I still had no idea what kind of resource was more abundant and accessible in Oz. I had to find that out first before deciding on what kind of generator to make.

However, we couldn't leave Emerald Castle for a while because of what had happened in the second day when we had walked outside the castle into Emerald City. The inhabitants of Emerald city, namely berrykins, were afraid of us. None of us had any idea why, but all of them ran away on sight. Some of the brave ones even threw things at us. We were lucky that Glinda appeared to teleport us back into Emerald Castle safely, but after that Glinda had asked us to stay inside the castle while she handled the matter.

In the morning of my second day off, all of us were in the dining room having our breakfast.

"Glinda, have you figured out what was wrong with the berrykins?" I asked.

"Well... yeah," Glinda said. "I was about to tell you all after this breakfast."

"Better tell us now," Peppermint said. "I can't stand the thought of being hated without knowing why."

"Yeah. We want to know why so we can clear things up," Strawberry said.

"Okay then," Glinda said. "Among the berrykins, there is a legend. The legend says that someday a fire from the sky would fall upon Oz, bringing curse and disaster throughout the land. That is the cause of what has happened."

"Please tell me that the fire is not our spaceship, I sure hope it is not!" Ginger said.

"Oh man, that definitely is the case," Huck said.

"Indeed. The village where your ship fell was inhabited by berrykins, although Gladyy recently took over the village and she was building her second castle there when you fell down there. The berrykins who were about to move to Emerald City saw your spaceship falling, and the rumor spread quickly," Glinda said. "In fact, I knew about your arrival when I heard from some newcomer berrykins panicking that the fire from the sky has come bringing eight monsters."

"Monsters?! Us?! That's very disturbing!" Peppermint said.

"That sure is an unfortunate misunderstanding," Orange said.

"In addition, right now the berrykins in Emerald City actually believes that I am imprisoning you here and attempting to banish you all to where you came from," Glinda said.

"This is starting to sound funny," I said. "Though I kinda want the last part to happen for real."

"Unfortunately, I can't do such thing," Glinda said.

"We need to talk to them and clear things up!" Strawberry said. "I don't want the berrykins to rest uneasy for days because of a misunderstanding!"

"Apple Dumplin' not want hate," Apple said.

"Them? Rest uneasy? Who cares about them? I only care about clearing our name!" Peppermint said.

"The main goal here is exactly that, anyway," I said.

"To make matters worse..." Glinda said. "The berrykins are running out of gem berries lately, and they believe that it is because of your presence."

"Gem berries? What are those?" I asked.

"Have you noticed all the lightings inside the castle, and also the lights over Emerald City whenever you happen to look outside the window?" Glinda asked back. "Those are gem berries."

"What? I've been thinking that they're just some kind of magical lanterns," I said.

"What you said is actually true," Glinda said. "Gem berries are magical berries which radiate light. They are used as lightings mainly in Emerald City and Emerald Castle."

"Why are they running out?" Angel asked. Glinda was silent for a while.

"They brought it upon themselves," Glinda finally said. "The energy of gem berries are limited. To preserve their energy, they must be closed, wrapped by their leaves, whenever they are not used. But the berrykins just forgot to do that. They took the gem berries for granted. Because of this, the gem berries get replaced too often, more often than their growth can handle."

"Whoa, that sounds like how we back in Strawberryland must turn off the lights every morning, am I right?" Ginger said. "And the berrykins keep the lights on all day long, am I right again?"

"That's berry terrible!" Strawberry said.

"We must knock some sense into them!" Peppermint said.

"Yeah, immediately!" Orange said.

"Calm down, youngsters!" Henry, who had been just listening, said. "I agree that what the berrykins do is terrible. However, you cannot just barge in and speak to them."

"Henry is right," I said. "Remember that right now we are monsters to them. Bringers of curse and disaster. There is no way they will listen to us."

"Then what is your plan, kid?" Peppermint said, sounding upset.

"I don't know. At least, not yet," I said.

"Henry and Blackberry are right, everyone," Glinda said. "The berrykins are very firm with their beliefs. Simply talking to them won't work. We need a plan to convince them."

"Hmm... Henry, do the berrykins know you?" I asked.

"They only know me as The Great Wizard of Oz, and none of them has seen me in person," Henry said.

"I see," I said. "Glinda, do the berrykins in Emerald City have some kind of leader among them?"

"There is a mayor," Glinda said.

"That's good. I have a plan, then," I said.

Just less than one hour later, Glinda came into the City Hall of Emerald City. The mayor was in his office room doing his daily office work. Glinda got into his room easily because she had a special privilege to enter his room anytime without appointment.

"Ah, Glinda! How are you?" the mayor greeted when he noticed Glinda entering.

"I'm fine. Thank you," Glinda said with a smile.

"What can I do for you?" the mayor said. "Perhaps you need help in banishing those monsters? I sure hope not, because we can't do anything! And you have The Great Wizard with you there, right?"

"I'm here to tell you that you have been summoned by The Great Wizard of Oz," Glinda said, which surprised the mayor. "Please come immediately."

"What?! Me?! Summoned?! Have I done something wrong? Or perhaps he indeed needs help?" the mayor said in panic.

"Calm down. You will be fine," Glinda said. "Just come with me."

"Oh... Alright," the mayor said. He then walked with Glinda to the Emerald Castle. When they arrived at the throne room, a large fireball appeared above the throne. The mayor kneeled in front of the fireball.

"Greetings, mayor of Emerald City," the fireball said with echoing voice.

"Oh, Great Wizard of Oz. I humbly kneel before you, to listen to what you want to say," the mayor said.

"As you know, I and Glinda have been trying to banish the monsters from the fallen fire back to where they came from," the fireball said. "Unfortunately, that is not possible."

"What? But what will become of Oz with them around bringing the curse upon the land?" the mayor said in fear. "What will become of the gem berries?"

"Listen to me to the very end without cutting me off, will you?" the fireball said.

"Y-yes! Please forgive me! I will now listen to the end!" the mayor said.

"Alright," the fireball said. "Indeed banishing them back to where they came from is not possible. However, we have found that there is no such thing as curse within them. Each of them is no different than a regular person. Therefore, I ask you to spread the news that they do not pose any danger upon the land so you and other berrykins will treat them fairly. Do you have anything to say about this?"

"That is a good thing to hear! However, I need to say that as long as our problem with depleting gem berries still exists, people will not fully believe that there is no curse!" the mayor said.

"That is why I am going to send them to Emerald City to check the problem and give a solution. I really hope for the cooperation from you and other berrykins," the fireball said. "Spread the news within the rest of this morning. After lunch time I will send them to Emerald City."

"Yes, your majesty! As you command!" the mayor said. The fireball then faded away and the mayor left the place in a hurry.

"You can come out now," Glinda said, and Henry came out from behind the folding screen which had been hiding him from view. All eight of us also came into the throne room from the door near the place where Henry had been hiding.

"That went really well," I said. "Thanks, Henry."

"I still don't feel right seeing him behaving as if I'm a high king," Henry said.

"Is it alright to keep lying to people about you being a great wizard?" Strawberry asked.

"It sure doesn't feel right..." Angel said.

"Yeah," Orange said.

"Hey, I'm not for lying myself. Not anymore," Peppermint said. "But did we have any other choice?"

"Maybe we could have tried talking to them," Strawberry said.

"Oh, please," Peppermint said with her hand on her forehead and sighing.

"I feel the same way as you, Strawberry," I said. "But there are times when simply talking just doesn't work. This was one of those times, and that was why we used an alternative."

"I guess you're right," Strawberry said. "But I think you have to tell them someday that you actually are not a wizard."

"I will consider that. But for now I think we should figure out the solution for another problem," Henry said.

"What is it?" I asked.

"How to convince the berrykins that they are running out of gem berries because of themselves," Henry said.

"I have been thinking about that too," Glinda said. "I'm not sure if telling them outright will work. Despite what we have done to the mayor, the other berrykins probably still don't fully trust what you will say."

"No matter how hard I think about it, the only thing that will matter is how we talk to them," I said.

"Then I suggest only the ones who are good at talking and convincing to be the one going," Henry said.

"Oh, that means..." Huck said. He then looked at Strawberry. The others except Strawberry herself also did the same.

"Huh? Me?" Strawberry asked.

"Who else?" Peppermint said. "All the time in Strawberryland, you have always been the first one to become friends with newcomers."

"Yeah, Strawberry. You're the best at making friends with new people!" Orange said.

"Strawberry, good friends," Apple said.

"Yeah, for this case talking can work," I said. "And you're the best at it."

"I'm berry flattered, everyone," Strawberry said. "Alright, I will try."

"I will go with you," I said. "I want to know further about the gem berries."

So, it was settled that only I and Strawberry would go to Emerald City to somehow convince them that their depleting reserves of gem berries were caused by their own ignorance. As Henry had promised, after lunch time the two of us went to Emerald City. When we arrived, the mayor was waiting for us along with a number of citizens who seemed to be whispering to each other. Probably because of the bad rumor about us still around, and maybe also because the two of us were quite bigger in size than the berrykins, whose body were just as big as a berry ball. Their rather short arms and legs didn't help at all.

"Welcome to Emerald City. Only two of you?" the mayor asked.

"Berry nice to meet you! I'm Strawberry Shortcake!" Strawberry said, shaking hands with the mayor.

"Uhh, yeah. Nice to meet you too," the mayor said.

"I'm Blackberry Bun. Henr- I mean, the Wizard of Oz only sent the two of us because he believed we wouldn't need unnecessary crowd," I said.

"I see. Come with me then. I will show you the problem you need to solve," the mayor said. He then brought us to the town square with many townspeople whispering to each other as we passed by them. He stopped under an inactive street light. I noticed that the lamp of the street light seemed to be wrapped by leaves.

"Here we are," the mayor said. He then used a lever near the base of the street light, and the leaves wrapping the lamp opened, revealing a shining berry.

"It's berry beautiful!" Strawberry said.

"Indeed it is, but our problem right now is that we are beginning to run out of these gem berries," the mayor said.

"That's berry terrible!" Strawberry said. "Do you know what might be the cause?"

"Well..." the mayor said. "This is embarrassing, but I admit that it is because of ourselves."

"Really? Could you please explain?" Strawberry asked.

"Well, you see, the energy of gem berries are limited," The mayor said, using the same lever. The leaves then wrapped the gem berry again. "Whenever we don't need them, we must preserve their energy like this. But for quite a long time we just forgot to do that. Not only that, the younger berrykins often use the gem berries as balls for playing catch."

"Do you all like the gem berries?" Strawberry asked.

"Of course! The gem berries are valuable to us!" the mayor said.

"Well, if I like something... I will treasure it," Strawberry said.

"It was all our fault, for that I agree," the mayor said. "That's why we have stopped using the gem berries as toys, and we now regularly close the gem berries whenever they are not used."

"I'm berry happy to hear that!" Strawberry said.

"So that means your problem is solved, right?" I said.

"No, not at all," the mayor said. "Instead, it got worse. The gem berries are running out even faster recently."

The mayor's last sentence surprised both of us. It turned out the problem of the berrykins was not what Glinda had told us. It was something else.

"Great galloping gooseberries! How come?" Strawberry asked.

"We have no idea! The gem berry trees were just fine in the field one night, but in the following morning we found some of them withered," the mayor said.

"Could you show us the field where it happened?" I asked.

"Ah, sure. Let me show you the way," the mayor said. He then brought us to a gem berry field located a bit far from Emerald City, about half an hour walk. When we arrived there, what we saw was a rather barren field with most trees having no life in them. The amount of gem berry tree still living on the field could be counted with two hands.

"This is just... berry horrible," Strawberry said.

"My people believed that the cause of this is the curse you all brought when that fire fell from the sky and you came out from it," the mayor said.

"That's berry not true! It was..." Strawberry said.

"I know," the mayor interrupted. "Well, actually it just came to me right after the wizard spoke to me this morning. This mystery started happening before you came, so you shouldn't be the cause of this."

"That's a relief!" Strawberry said.

"So, now we need you to solve this mystery. Without the gem berries, Emerald City will no longer be... emerald," the mayor said, looking somewhat pitiful.

"Well, I'm new to this place so I'm not sure. But..." I said, pausing briefly. "Is it possible to move them all into a greenhouse or something in Emerald City and cultivate them there?"

"Well, none of us have tried that," the mayor said. "But I think it's worth a try. Not all of them, though. I don't want to risk it."

"Alright, let's get to it immediately," I said.

With the help of the mayor and some of the berrykins, the two of us then put three of the remaining trees into a pot and brought them into Emerald City. Fortunately and conveniently, the city already has a greenhouse, so we could place the trees there. After planting the three trees inside the greenhouse, we decided to check the gem berry field once more. We walked there with the mayor, and to our surprise, when we arrived there was only one tree left. The other trees have withered with thin dark smoke coming out from the dead trunk.

"Oh, no," Strawberry said, running to one of the smoking trees.

"It happened again!" the mayor said.

"Something happened while we were away. But what?" I said while following Strawberry. Suddenly, I heard a familiar laugh coming from above. I looked at the source and found that the laugh came from Gladys, riding her winged monkey.

"I hate gem berries! I will destroy gem berries!" Gladys shouted while laughing.

"You no good witch!" I shouted. Gladys just simply laughed.

"But first, I'm getting rid of some meddlers!" She then pointed her wand at Strawberry, and a green lightning came out from it. I had no idea what was in my mind. My legs just moved by themselves, pushing my body to leap to Strawberry, pushing her out of the way. Immediately, I was the one who got hit by the spell instead of Strawberry, and I fainted, having no idea what happened next.

I woke up later, having no idea where I was and how long had passed. I then immediately noticed that I was on the bed in my bedroom. From the morning sunlight coming from the window, I could notice that I had slept for at least one night.

"Welcome back, Blackberry," a voice I immediately recognized as Glinda's said. I was still unaware of her position because I couldn't see much without my glasses.

"What happened?" I asked.

"You blocked Gladys' spell with your body. Because of that, you fainted for the rest of the day," she said.

"Oh, I see," I said. "What happened after that? Is Strawberry all right? And the last tree?"

"Yes, don't worry," she said. "After you blocked her spell, her wand broke into pieces and she went back home. Strawberry is fine, and the last tree has been moved to the greenhouse and planted along with the other three trees."

"Glad to hear that," I said. "Where's my glasses by the way?"

"Right here, you stupid kid," another voice I recognized as Peppermint's said.

"Uhh, what?" I asked as I took my glasses from Peppermint's hand.

"Jumping in front of Strawberry and taking the attack, what made you do such thing?" she asked, sounding upset.

"I-I don't know. Maybe..." I said. "Maybe because once someone did it for me."

"You mean... Black Currant?" she asked.

"Yeah..." I said, getting up from bed. "What he did back then, might be the thing that drives me to do the same for my friends."

"Alright, I see what you mean and I appreciate that. We appreciate that," she said. "But do you know why I said that it was stupid?"

"Uhh, no. Why?" I asked. Suddenly, the rest of my friends came into the room, looking very delighted.

"Blackberry! I'm berry glad you're all right!" Strawberry said, hugging me.

"Uhh, Strawberry, I only fainted for one day but you act like I've been in coma for a long time," I said.

"I just can't understand you," Peppermint said while sighing. "You have the heart to sacrifice yourself for others, yet you still doesn't understand how we feel."

"Maybe I'm indeed that stupid," I said after chuckling.

Later, after having breakfast I went to the workshop to discuss with Henry about the possibility of making a generator fueled by gem berries. The rest of my friends and also Glinda were still in the dining room after I left, and a conversation happened without me knowing.

"So, do you think he should know that what he did was stupid?" Peppermint asked.

"Better not," Huck said.

"Yeah, better not," Orange said.

"It's not gonna be a good thing to make him look like a fool," Angel said.

"What he did was not stupid, everyone," Strawberry said. "It's true that I could actually reflect back Gladys' spell with this magic mirror Glinda gave me, and that was what I did when Gladys casted the spell again after Blackberry got hit by the spell. But we should remember that he didn't know that I had this magic mirror, and in his mind I was in danger and defenseless. He is a really good friend, and I will never replace him with anything."

"My oh my, Strawberry. You're right, very right! Yep, you sure do!" Ginger said.

"I think the same too!" Huck said.

"Hmph, well said," Peppermint said.

"By the way, is Gladys going to destroy the gem berries again?" Orange asked, looking at Glinda.

"I don't think so for now," Glinda said. "The reflected spell broke her wand, and making a new one takes some time."

"That's berry good to hear!" Strawberry said.

"But like I have told you when I gave you that mirror, it can only reflect a spell once. Making a new mirror takes longer than making a new wand, so you all need to be more careful from now on," Glinda said.

"We will! Thank you, Glinda!" Strawberry said.

-End of Chapter 1-
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
Nice to see one more add-on of the official stories.

The berrykins aren't at all smart. This isn't your fault. The original writers wrote them that way. Noooot my favorite type of characters.

Blackberry's character development and explanation is good, although it is something of a brain challenge to remember that his character is younger than I've grown used to. I'll soon remember this more easily.

Storyline is promising. Pacing is not too slow or too fast, in my opinion.

Good luck.
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