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Blackberry Bun's Oz Journal: Year 1, Chapter 3
Quote:Year 1

Chapter 3: A Visitor Comes

In the morning right after the Berry Drifting Festival, I woke up on my bed not remembering how I had ended up there. I didn't remember walking back to Emerald Castle and falling asleep on my bed. It felt as if all my memories from that point had been taken from me. I tried hard to remember, but it was of no use. I then began to worry that something was going wrong with my brain. However, I realized that I had just woken up so it probably was my own brain not working fully yet. I then searched for my glasses near the bed.

"Good morning, silly boy," a voice I easily recognized as Peppermint's said.

"Good morning, Peppermint," I said, putting my glasses on.

"Do you remember what happened last night? Or do I need to tell you?" she asked, still with her usual cynical face and voice.

"I don't remember anything, so I guess I need you to tell me," I said.

"Not long after Strawberry finished singing that night, we found you sleeping at the river bank," she said.

"Really? Oh yeah... I was sitting there being stunned by the view and Strawberry's singing..." I said. "But then, how did I end up right here?"

"None of us had the heart to wake you up, so in the end we asked Glinda to teleport you right into your bed," she said.

"I guess I owe her an apology for the bother," I said, feeling a bit embarrassed.

"Yeah, you definitely do," she said. "She's still in the dining room with the others. Do it now."

Right after she finished her sentence, I got off from my bed and walked towards the dining room. Peppermint walked alongside me, but none of us said anything. Soon, we arrived at the dining room and as Peppermint had said, everyone else including Glinda and Henry were still there having breakfast.

"Good morning, Blackberry!" Strawberry greeted. "Did you sleep well?"

I knew Strawberry didn't intend to make me feel embarrassed, but I felt embarrassed hearing that regardless. I also felt that the others were secretly laughing at me for falling asleep in the middle of the festival. They probably weren't, but I still felt as if they were.

"Uhh... yeah," I said timidly. "Uhh... Glinda."

"Yes?" Glinda replied kindly.

"Thank you for what you did last night... and... sorry for the bother," I said, still timidly. I felt so embarrassed that I wanted to dig a deep hole and hide there, but of course I couldn't and wouldn't do that.

"It was no problem at all," Glinda replied. "It's already a common thing for me every year to teleport those who fall asleep during the berry drifting."

"Huh? You mean, I was not the only one last night?" I asked.

"Apple Dumplin' sleep too!" Apple said.

"Me too, actually," Orange said, looking a bit shy.

"And also quite a number of berrykins," Glinda said. "I was actually a bit surprised that the number of berrykins falling asleep at the river area last night was more than double compared to any previous years."

"I think it might be caused by Strawberry," Huck said.

"Huh? Me?" Strawberry asked, looking confused.

"I actually agree," Angel said. "Strawberry's singing last night was so beautiful calming, it made people fall asleep."

"Yeah, Strawberry. The song was beautiful! Nobody can sing better than you!" Orange said.

"Thank you," Strawberry said after giggling and blushing a bit.

Later, I and Henry were in the workshop, and as it had always been, we had nothing to do other than discussing plans. Lack of proper tools and materials prevented us from making any actual progress. I had taken one gem berry from Emerald Castle lighting reserves for us to study if it could be used as fuel for a generator, but there was no significant result. We even tried eating it, and from it we only got a vague information that eating it had the effect of reducing fatigue. I had said vague because it could have been just a psychological effect, the name of which is known as Placebo Effect.

"No progress at all again today," I said after sighing.

"It's still morning, son!" Henry said, cheering me up.

"All we need for now is a generator, and we don't know how to make one," I said.

"Indeed. Being too used to modern technology is a flaw here," Henry said. "Maybe we need outside help after all."

"Outside help? Who?" I asked.

"I know that the..." Henry said, before Glinda teleported in, interrupting Henry's speech.

"You have a visitor," Glinda said.

"Ah, thank you for telling me," Henry said. "I should get going then."

Henry then ran inside the Emerald Castle, leaving me and Glinda at the workshop. We had a conversation as we walked towards the castle.

"Visitor?" I asked.

"Henry's name as the Wizard of Oz is well known throughout the land. Sometimes people come to him to speak, usually seeking help for a problem they are facing," Glinda replied.

"Now I'm wondering why he is that famous. Has he saved the land or something?" I asked.

"You can say so," she said. "It's quite a long story."

"Tell me the story someday," I said.

"I think Henry himself will be better at telling you the story," she said.

"You're probably right," I said. "By the way..."

"Yes?" she said.

"You have your own castle like your sister, right?" I said. "But why are you here everyday? I'm just wondering."

"Right, I haven't told you yet," she said while smiling. "Emerald Castle is my castle."

"What? Isn't this castle supposed to belong to the Wizard of Oz, or in other word, Henry?" I asked.

"You're not wrong," she said. "Emerald Castle is... Oh!"

"What is it?" I asked.

"Henry just gave me the sign that he is ready to receive the guest," she said, although I had no idea how Henry had given the sign from a distance. "Let's go to the guest room then."

Glinda then used her teleportation spell to bring the two of us to the guest room of Emerald Castle. When we got there, I saw someone sitting anxiously on one couch. That person was small, although still larger than berrykins. He grew thick brown beard and moustache, and he wore what seemed like a technician's working outfit. He seemed surprised seeing us.

"Glinda! Is the wizard ready yet?" he asked. "And who is that boy?"

"I will introduce you two later since the wizard is ready. We don't want to waste his time, right?" Glinda said. "Please go to his throne room immediately."

"You're right! I better get going!" the person said, and he immediately ran off to the throne room.

"Was that a dwarf?" I asked.

"A Berry Dwarf, yes. Though they usually are only called as dwarves," she replied. "They live quite far West of Emerald City. The dwarves are well known in Oz for their ability to construct machines for any need."

"Really? Maybe I could use their help for my project," I said.

"It's actually not a bad idea, but there is a problem," she said. "The dwarves are also well known for being short tempered and not willing to help and be helped by other races. In fact, this is the first time I see a dwarf come seeking the wizard's help in my entire life."

"Uhh, doesn't that mean there is a very serious threat which might come here as well?" I asked, getting worried.

"If that was the case, I would already notice," she said. "Don't worry. I'm sure it's not something dangerous."

"I sure hope so," I said. "By the way, you said 'your entire life'? How long has Henry been here?"

"Three years, but I have never said that there had been no wizard before Henry," Glinda said. "Anyway, there's a balcony inside the throne room. We can watch them from there."

Glinda then once again used her teleportation spell. When we arrived at the balcony, I saw that Huck was there as well. On the floor below, the dwarf was standing at a distance in front of the throne, and there was a fireball above the throne.

"Huck, why are you here?" I asked.

"I was just walking around," he replied. "Who's that dwarf who just arrived?"

"A visitor seeking for help," I said. We then watched the conversation between the dwarf and the fireball Henry was projecting.

"So, you're the one with desire to speak to me," the fireball said. "Now speak!"

"I need help! Our king's birthday is just two more weeks and we still don't know what gift we should give to him!" the dwarf said.

"Are you serious with that? Seeking my help for such petty thing?" the fireball said.

"How dare you saying that it is a petty thing!" the dwarf shouted loud. "Our king has helped the dwarves in more ways than you can possibly imagine! The people love him and want to give him something in return, but he always refuses to tell what he wants no matter what we do to make him talk! Years have passed without him receiving any gift from us, and now we absolutely want this to succeed! And that is why I seek your help! DON'T YOU DARE CALL THIS A PETTY THING!"

"As I expected from a dwarf. Such a short fuse," the fireball said. "So, what do you expect from me?"

"I only need a spell for projecting mind. If I can know the king's mind, people will know what he really wants!" the dwarf said.

"I want to respect people's privacy, and such spell violates it. I cannot help you on that," the fireball said.

"I'm not asking you to cast the spell on the king! Cast it on this machine!" the dwarf said, taking a small object from his pocket. The object looked like a small mechanical cube with a round core on one side.

"Ah, I see. A dwarven device," the fireball said. "I suppose it absorbs and stores a spell for future use."

"Indeed," the dwarf said.

"It's still violating the privacy of mind," the fireball said. "Normally I would reject this kind of request. However, I am now under a certain cirmcumstance so I will consider. Return to the guest room for now and wait until I call you again."

"Alright. I will be waiting," the dwarf said, and he left the throne room. The three of us then went downstairs to the hidden room where Henry operated his holographic device. He was still there sitting and looking a bit tired.

"Oh, hello, son," he said. "Did you see everything?"

"Yeah," I said. "I actually wonder now why as the wizard you were kinda... not friendly."

"I don't want to, but I have to," he said. "Otherwise all people will ask for help even for small problems they should be able to overcome themselves."

"I see," Huck said.

"Glinda, you can cast a mind projecting spell, right?" Henry said.

"Yes, but I don't really like doing it," Glinda said. "Why didn't you refuse the request and instead give advice like you usually do?"

"Son, remember when I said about outside help?" Henry asked, looking at me.

"The dwarves, right?" I said.

"Yes. If we successfully help them, maybe they will be willing to help us in our project," Henry said. "So, Glinda, could you please help us in this?"

"Well... Alright," Glinda said.

"Thank you, Glinda!" I said. "That means a lot for us!"

I then went with Glinda to the guest room where the dwarf was once again waiting anxiously. Huck also came with us because he was quite interested on the case and wanted to see how it would progress.

"Has the wizard given his answer?" the dwarf said when he saw us.

"He agreed," Glinda said. "As his representative, I will be the one casting the spell on the machine."

"That will do! Please do it right away!" the dwarf said, taking the machine he had shown before and putting it on a table. Glinda then waved her wand in a certain pattern and began murmuring words I didn't understand. After about half a minute, her wand let out a glow and she pointed it at the machine. The wand then shot a purple ray towards the machine, which absorbed the ray. The core of the machine then began to glow with purple color.

"Does that work?" I asked. Immediately, the machine blew up with black smoke.

"No... No, no! NO!" the dwarf said in frustration, repeatedly stomping the floor hard with his right leg. "The magic was too strong for this machine to contain!"

Both me and Huck then looked at Glinda, who seemed to get the message immediately.

"You two want me to go to his hometown and use the spell directly on the king, right?" Glinda said after sighing. "Alright, I will go."

"Really?" the dwarf asked. "Oh thank you! Our people will appreciate it very much!"

"By the way, let me introduce you all," Glinda said. "These two boys are Blackberry Bun and Huckleberry Pie. They, along with six girls, came from a far place and they are staying in Emerald Castle for a while."

"Nice to meet you two! I'm Boli Gearcraft, but you can call me with just Boli!" the dwarf said.

"You can call me with just Huck!" Huck said. "And for him, just Blackberry will do fine."

"Nice to meet you... B-B-Boli," I said timidly. I had no idea why my old syndrome struck me again.

"Hey, I might have a short fuse like the wizard told me, but I don't bite," the dwarf said, looking slightly upset.

"Please bear with him. He's just shy," Huck said, trying to defend me.

"Alright, that's fine," Boli said. "Let's get going then. You two can come too. Maybe you'll be of some use."

"Are we going with Glinda teleporting us?" I asked.

"Unfortunately, I cannot do that," Glinda said. "Dwarves are partially immune to magic. I better not tell what will happen if I try to teleport a dwarf..."

"Yeah, better not. I already feel sick now..." I said with a better-not-spoken image appearing in my mind.

"How far is your place from here?" Huck asked.

"I've never measured it, but it will take about ten days to walk there," Boli said. "But hey, I've never said that I came here walking."

"Huh? What do you mean?" I asked.

"Come with me and see for yourself," he said. All of us then followed him to Emerald Castle's front gate, and what we found there was a four-wheeled vehicle with a large engine at its back side. The vehicle had seats enough for four people including the driver. There was no roof or such thing to cover the seats. "Behold my land vessel!"

"Uhh... land vessel?" I asked.

"Yeah! A vessel, but on land! I made it myself!" Boli said. "With this, we will arrive in Dwarven Capital within five hours!"

"That's great, but... do you have a better name for it?" I asked. "Land vessel kinda sounds... I dunno."

"What?! Are you telling me the name is not good? Then tell me! What should I name it with!?" he said, sounding really upset. I was quite surprised that what I had thought as a simple question could upset him so much.

"Uhh... How about... car?" I said. "Car, short of 'carriage'. It carries you. How does that sound?"

"Hmph! That's the simplest and laziest suggestion I've ever heard!" he said. "But as simple and lazy as it sounds, it works in my ears! That's it! From now on, this is a car!"

"We better tell the others that we are leaving," Huck said. "Can't have them wondering and worrying about us."

"Worrying about what, huh Blackberry and Huckleberry?" suddenly Ginger asked from behind us. "Are you going somewhere? Where are you going to go?"

"Ginger, you surprised me," I said. I then told her about everything I knew so far, except the reason for helping the dwarf because I didn't want Boli to know about it yet.

"I see. Don't worry, I will let the others know. I sure will, yessire!" she said. "Better go now before you miss the dwarf king's birthday."

"We'll be back as soon as we can," I said.

"I believe you will!" she said.

"Alright, it's ready! Get on!" Boli said loudly from his seat. Huck then sat next to Boli, while I and Glinda sat behind them. The car engine then roared to life and Boli put on his goggles. "You all should wear these too! Don't want dust to hit your eyes!"

Right after saying that, Boli gave each of us another pair of goggles. Glinda refused and put a transparent magical barrier around her eyes.

"Maybe someday you can build a cover for this car so we don't have to wear these," I said, putting on the goggles and wearing my glasses in front of it.

"I did it once, but I like the breeze!" Boli said. "Alright! Here we go! Blast off!"

The car then accelerated fast and left Emerald Castle within seconds. I was very surprised by the sudden acceleration, and later I was a bit scared by the high speed. I wanted to buckle up, but there was no seat belt in the car. Fortunately, a few minutes later the car slowed down to a fair speed.

"Hey, Boli," I said.

"Yes?" Boli said while still driving.

"Can you tell me about the Dwarven Capital?" I asked.

"Not much about the capital since I'm not into history," he said. "All I can tell is that it is much larger than Emerald City, and we are thriving thanks to the king."

"What can you tell me about the king then?" I asked.

"He is the greatest king I've ever known!" he said. "He is not only The King of The Dwarves, he is also the richest dwarf in the whole kingdom. He knows all about how economy runs, and he put his knowledge into good use. Without him, our kingdom would be just a bunch of simple, poor villages. I'm not saying that he's perfect, though. He has his downsides. But all the people love him and that's all that matters. Oh yes, he was an adventurer and treasure hunter in his younger days."

"Nobody's perfect," I said. "So, what are his downsides if you can tell me?"

"Well, he is very strict in enforcing prices. There's no such thing as discount in his dictionary, and anyone who owes him money must settle it within the time agreed upon or he will confiscate things without mercy," Boli said. "On a related note, he is quite greedy. I believe I don't need to explain that."

"I think I'll just wait and see for myself," I said.

"Is this trip really going to take five hours?" Huck asked.

"I can trim it to four, or even three, if I speed up. But it will be too dangerous," Boli said.

"Oh man, this will be a boring trip," Huck said.

"Just sleep through it. I'll be fine," Boli said.

"As if I can sleep right here," Huck said.

"Glinda, do you know tranquilizer spell?" I asked.

"Uhh, yes," Glinda said. "You want me to cast it on you, right?"

"If it doesn't have any bad side effects, yes please," I said.

"Cast it on me too, I guess. Sitting here for five hours straight isn't going to be fun for me," Huck said.

"Alright, here I go. Sleep tight," Glinda said, waving her wand a bit. Some sparkles came out from it and surrounded both my and Huck's head. I then felt really sleepy, and I fell asleep within the next minute.

-End of Chapter 3-
[Image: TheGrapesChildrenSig.png]
Well, hey, this is really interesting. Nice worldbuilding. Nice introduction and development of characters. A+ is all I have to say.
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