The Wizard Returns Page 23

’’I\ve learned so much from you,’’ the Wizard said easily. Pete smiled, and the Wizard almost laughed. So easy to fool them;so easy to play the part of penitent revolutionary, vowing to do right by his adopted home. What would they say, Pete and the fairies, if they could see what he really wanted?

Oz had been his once, and it could be again. Not just his in name, as it had been before, but his wholly now that he knew he had real power, now that he could access the Old Magic of Oz. He had liked the throne, liked it very much. He didn\ know why the fairies wanted the three gifts so badly, but the answer had to be their power. If he had the Old Magic, the gifts, the throne nothing would be able to stop him. Not Dorothy, not Glinda, not a bunch of goths in black bathrobes, chain-smoking cloves underground and longing for the good old days. And Dorothy oh yes, he remembered her. Dorothy owed him. And he was going to make her pay.

Pete took a step forward, and the long grass parted to reveal the most familiar highway in Oz: the Road of Yellow Brick. Waiting, as it always was, to take travelers to the Emerald City, no matter where their journey began. The Wizard smiled to himself. Like Dorothy had once said, there was no place like home. He found he was very much looking forward to his return.

’’Are you ready?’’ Pete asked, taking the first step onto the golden road.

’’Oh yes,’’ the Wizard said, tapping his cane lightly against the yellow bricks. ’’I am very ready indeed.’’

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