The Hearts and Flowers of Oz
A sequel to the Oziana 1985 story “Magic in Kitchen,” which takes place after Ojo in Oz.
By Joe Bongiorno
Foreground illustration by Annakin Hannevik
Background illustration by Wenzel Peter
Last Updated July 1, 2016
Thanks to my proofreaders Paul Dana, Nathan DeHoff & Marcus Mebes
And just like that they were no more...
The palace kitchen, which only a second ago had been alive with the sound of voices of pots, pans, utensils, ovens, and various foodstuffs, was now suddenly silenced.
Dorothy stood there, the pepper and cleaver she had been conversing with were now just an ordinary pepper and cleaver.
Her heart sank and her brow furrowed. She could hear herself breathing heavily. She stilled it. Getting emotional wouldn’t help her do what she needed to do.
They had all been accidentally brought to life when the new kitchen maid Fran found a silver wand, and with it accidentally wished that the kitchen would run itself. It soon did! Organized into a self-sustaining unit by Mr. Cleaver, who claimed to be a cousin of King Kleaver in Utensia, the kitchen became an excited babble of voices and activity.
Fran has asked Dorothy for help, but the youthful princess assumed that when Ozma returned home she’d send the kitchenware to Utensia, where there was a thriving community of living utensils, and the food to Bunbury, which had a similar community of living food, both of which she figured had probably been brought to life in a similar way years ago. Dorothy had visited their towns the week her aunt and uncle had come to stay in Oz. They were fun and surprising places, even if did end in tragedy with Toto committing the faux pas of eating the live crumpets.
When Ozma did come home, she returned the silver wand to Polychrome, whose sister had lost it that morning, but instead of sending the living kitchen to the places where they’d be welcome, she allowed the sky-fairy to un-wish Fran’s earlier wish, rendering all the formerly living kitchen creatures un-living.
She just… silenced them.
How could she?
Then, Dorothy thought back to some of the decisions Ozma had made in recent times, and it suddenly dawned on her. She could. She had.
How had Ozma become so… cold?
Dorothy steeled herself and walked out of the kitchen, winding her way to the Wizard’s quarter. A servant told her he was in his tower, so up the stairs she went, composing herself and trying to bring her usual cheeriness to the forefront. It wasn’t as easy as she’d thought it would be, but by the time she arrived there, she’d managed it. “Oh hi, Wiz,” she said. He was distracted, as usual, by a project. “Those old Speaking Tubes giving you a hard time?”
“You have no idea!” he said. What he thought should have been the easiest of devices to master—basically telephones—was proving far more difficult than he would’ve believed. He had them working intermittently at best. It was a project he’d started years earlier and never seemed to have the time to finish. “What can I do you for?”
“I’ve run out of Wishing Pills, and just wondered if I could…”
“Oh yeah, yeah,” he replied, distractedly. “They’re right over there on top of the shelf next to the Spectrometer. You can’t miss them.” He was right. The bottle was clearly labeled. “Take as many as you need.”
Dorothy figured three would do the trick, but she took four to be on the safe side. “See you later.”
He mumbled a goodbye in return and she proceeded back the way she came, saying hello in passing to a few servants and friends, making her way back into the kitchen. None of the staff had yet returned, though she could hear voices outside, and assumed they soon would.
Popping a Wishing Pill into her mouth, she said, “I wish for all the talking things that had been alive a half-hour ago in this kitchen to be alive again.”
And just like that, they were.
As if no time had passed, they were back to chattering, gossiping, arguing, and laughing. Mr. Cleaver looked hard at Dorothy and said, “Something’s happened, hasn’t it?”
“It has,” she responded without going into details. “I need to send you all on your way.”
That silenced the room in a jiffy.
“Where would you be sending us?” asked a lumpy potato.
“I don’t wanna go anywhere,” drawled the oven. “I’m kind of attached to this place.”
“Maybe we can have our own community?” volunteered a serving spoon.
“Um… actually, I was thinking of sending the food to Bunbury, and the utensils to Utensia.”
“My cousin is king there,” reminded Mr. Cleaver.
“No offense to your cousin,” said a butcher knife, “But that place just isn’t sharp enough for me.”
“And I don’t want to go to stuffy Bunbury,” said the loquacious pepper.
“No, nor I!” said the potato, growing hot.
“You’ve never even been there,” said Dorothy, exasperated. “How do you know it’s stuffy and not wonderful?”
“I’ve heard tales,” argued a frankfurter that had grown on a tree. “News travels fast in these parts.”
“But you’ve only all just come alive a short while ago! How could you possibly...”
But before she could even finish her sentence or figure out what to do, the utensils and food items started leaving the kitchen, some went through the door to the outside; others piled out the door into the rest of the palace. Only Mr. Cleaver stayed by her side.
“I have no idea what to do now. I don’t want to force them there.”
“I’ll see what I can do, your highness,” said the Cleaver, following the others into the palace, barking orders to whoever would listen.
At that moment, Ozma walked in. “Dorothy! What have you done?”
That was all she could take. Guilty and not a little angry, Dorothy stifled a tear and ran out the door.
She was sitting on the balcony that overlooked the sweet-smelling verdure of the garden wafting up from below when Ozma found her. Toto was asleep in the sun by her side. Eureka, only half asleep, purred on Dorothy’s lap.
“I was wondering where you’d gotten yourself to,” said Ozma.
Dorothy looked up at her, an odd expression that was half-smile, half-worry. Ozma knew her best friend well, and moved to sit on the wrought-iron bench besides her.
“Sorry I startled you earlier, but I was a little surprised. Why didn’t you come to me?” she asked.
“It wasn’t their fault they were brought to life, you know.” Dorothy said, a little more emphatically than she’d intended. Eureka opened an eye, and Toto stirred.
“Ah, I see now. You think I’ve made an unwise decision.”
“It’s not that,” she said. “I’m sure it was a wise decision, y’know, practical and all. That’s just the problem.”
“I think I understand,” Ozma said, looking out towards the turquoise jade vine that grew up the trellis above the red and white heart shaped Tagimaucia flowers and small Kokai tree. “You think it was unloving.”
“I suppose that’s what I’m having trouble with. You usually choose love above all else. I know there are things I don’t fully understand, and maybe there was a good reason for doing what you did, but…”
“It doesn’t seem right.”
The pink kitten on Dorothy’s lap stretched and settled into a seated position on Dorothy’s leg. “I know you didn’t ask for my opinion…”
“But you’re going to give it anyway,” said Toto.
“Hush you!” she retorted. “But yes I am. I was angry when you put me on trial all those years ago—in large part because I was innocent, but also because I’d thought about eating those piglets, and had never really experienced guilt before. I had just come from the outside world, after all. So, I didn’t think you were so wonderful as my mistress did.”
“Is there a point to this?” Toto interrupted.
“Shush, I’m coming to it. But I understood that you were motivated by your love for those annoying piglets. And I came to respect that… in time. You rule with your heart and your head, though sometimes you favor the heart, and I don’t know where your head is at; and other times it’s the other way around. This is one of those times.”
Ozma smiled at her. “Thank you for your frank assessment, Eureka. Toto, would you like to add anything?”
“Nah,” he rumbled. “You know I don’t get involved in this kind of thing. I may think and speak like a human, but I’m still a dog.”
“I value the thoughts of all my subjects and friends, even dogs.”
“I guess if you insist then. It’s just that there’s no difference between what happened in your kitchen and what happened to the Scarecrow or Scraps. Besides which, you and the Wiz can whip up a whole new kitchen with the flash of your wand or a wish from the Magic Belt. So, it’s not as if you need any of that stuff. It ’pears to me that once something’s alive it’s alive, and should probably stay that way unless it don’t want to.”
Eureka looked hard at him: “And you wanted me to keep quiet!”
“Just because I’m not always spouting off my opinion doesn’t mean I don’t have any. Besides, Ozma asked.”
“And I’m glad I did,” Ozma said, though with the barest hint of melancholy that Dorothy caught.
“I know how hard it is to rule,” Dorothy offered. “I’ve done it every time you and the Wizard are gone. I don’t know how you find the strength to deal with all the challenges you face, and I know you care, which is what must make it all the harder…”
“I appreciate that, Dorothy, and I can’t tell you what a relief it is to have someone like you to help at those times. But tell me, this isn’t just about the living kitchen, is it?”
“Well, no, partly…” said Dorothy, now regretting she’d gone as far as she had. She didn’t want to hurt Ozma by dredging up things from the past that was too late to do anything about. “But let’s not talk about it any more. What’s done is done.”
Sensing that Dorothy might clam up or walk away, Ozma looked firmly into her eyes: “If I’m going to be a wise and loving ruler, I need you and my counselors to be honest with me. If you hesitate to advise me because you fear it’ll hurt my feelings, well that’s almost as bad as those in the outside world who fail to tell their rulers the truth because they fear their reprisals. Do you see those tiny water lilies upon the pond over there?” Ozma pointed towards a verdant duck pond upon which dozens of small yellow-orange flowers with purple tips languorously floated. “They’re called nymphaea tetragona, and in the world where you came from they’re considered the most delicate flower, opening only seven days out of the year in the spring. Here in Oz, they open for a full three months.”
“They’re beautiful,” Dorothy said.
“They are. But even in Oz, they’re fragile. I may be gentle like them, Dorothy. But I don’t require special handling and I won’t wither away. My strength and wisdom come from love, and from listening to wise friends like you.”
Dorothy sighed and steeled herself. “Ok then. Well... It’s just that there was a time when you would sooner sacrifice yourself than give up your principles. It was the day of the Nome Invasion when the Phanfasms and others were coming from the underground tunnel they dug under Oz. I’ll never forget it. You said ‘No one has the right to destroy any living creatures, however evil they may be, or to hurt them or make them unhappy. I will not fight, even to save my kingdom.’”
“I remember,” Ozma said, looking down.
“That’s when I knew.”
“That you were truly the one, the only rightful Queen of Oz.”
“I appreciate that, Dorothy, and the Scarecrow had come up with a good plan that worked out for the best in the end, but it wasn’t my best strategic decision. Things could have gone very differently.”
“They didn’t, though,” Dorothy argued. She’d heard the whispered criticisms over the years, mostly from those in the outside world who laughed at the idea of Ozma taking such a stance in the face of great evil. “Why? Because you refused to fight like them, or become like them. If you’d done that, every conflict since then would have been solved by fighting. And what would Oz be now? No different than the world I came from. But you knew Oz was different, special, blessed, Aunt Em often says, and for it to stay that way, it has to be governed by love. No exceptions.”
“I still believe that,” Ozma said.
“I know you do, but there’s been a couple of things recently that don’t seem to fit with that, like what we did to Mombi for one… and Mooj. I suppose they were evil, but no more than the Phanfasms, and probably far less; and then we exiled the Gypsies while giving a slap on the wrist to those bandits who did some unspeakable things.” Dorothy referred to the recent incident in which a band of Gypsies had kidnapped Ojo and a bear named Snufferbux, the latter who they exploited for entertainment, the former because of a price on his head from a villain named Mooj. Ojo and the bear were then abducted by a group of bandits who sought to claim the bounty on Ojo for themselves.
“She’s got a point there,” piped in Toto. “Those bear rugs the bandits had in their cave didn’t come from trees.”
“Neither did those animal heads,” added Eureka. “As if it wasn’t bad enough they killed the poor things, they decorated their home with their body parts! That’s just sick!”
Ozma looked somberly at each of her friends. “I agree, and in fact these things have been weighing on my mind for quite some time. You’ll be glad to know I’ve already begun doing something about it. I brought the Gypsies back for a start.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Dorothy. “Why did you send them out of Oz in the first place?”
“I don’t know as much about the outside world as you, the Wizard and your aunt and uncle do. According to them, they had a bad reputation there as thieves and even witches. I didn’t think such ones should be welcomed here, and so I returned them to where they’d come from before they found their way into Oz. I’ve since learned that I was wrong to do so. They’re a persecuted and nomadic people, made up of good and bad just like everyone else, yet because they're different they've been maligned. This particular group found their way into Oz some time ago and made it their home. It's not my place to send them out just because of the bad behavior of a few.”
“I’m awful glad to hear they're back. I kinda liked them.”
“I do too,” Ozma said with a smile. “Now aren’t you glad you brought it up?”
“Yeah, I think we both need to speak our hearts more often.”
A week later, Glinda, the Wizard and Princess Dorothy stood upon the dais next to Ozma on the throne. The Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger lay at their usual positions before it. A large crowd of Ozites had gathered in the room, including but not limited to Betsy, Hank, Trot, Cap’n Bill, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, his friend Timorous, Benny the Living Statue, Professor Wogglebug, Prince Corum and his wife Marygolden, King Cheeriobed and Queen Orin, who rode to the Emerald City on the dragon Quiberon (who proved to be gentle once Mombi’s spell upon him was removed), Joe King and Queen Hyacinth, Herby the Medicine Man, Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, Button-Bright, Ojo, Carter Green, the small brown bear Grumpy and his big bear pal Snufferbux, Bob-up, Notta-Bit the clown, and his friend Clakku, Snif the Iffin, Doubty the dromedary, the Laughing Hyena visiting from the Gillikin Country, Bungle the Glass Cat, Woozy, the former king of Oz Pastoria II, along with his fellow royal tailors, Snif and Pajuka, General Jinjur and Brigadier Tanjrine, Valynn the Keeper of the Enchanted Apples, and all the nobles, courtiers and representatives from the royal houses, as well as journalists from the Ozmapolitan, Gillikin Times, Quadling Quarterly and others. Amongst them were two specimens of living cutlery, Mr. Cleaver and his cousin King Kleaver of Utensia, a regal-looking bun named King Hun Bun, his ginger dog Ginger Snaps, King Jo-John of Jelly Bean Island, the Royal Dough-Dough Bird, Mr. Pepper, the former kitchen-maid Fran, and her new friend a young Gillikin man named Lon.
“Thank you all for coming today,” stated Ozma regally as she stood up from the throne. “I have summoned you all here to better express my role as the fairy-appointed sovereign of Oz and what that entails. Since the earliest days, Oz was a land caught between the forces of darkness and light. It was consecrated early on by the Fairy Queen Lurline who was inspired by the Supreme Maker to designate it as a true fairyland, and indeed for this purpose had it been sundered from its original terrestrial roots to its own dimension upon which all of Nonestica and the lands beyond now rest. This is a magical realm and some of you are magically-constructed beings. Yet, we are tied to our former home and peoples in the outside world. Their language has become our language. Their customs have become our customs. Many even of their citizens have become our citizens. Yet, we are not as those in the outside world. We do not make wars. We do not have bitter strife, suffering, old age, or death.”
If it was possible for the crowd at this point to grow even more silent than they had been, they did, for it wasn’t every day that such somber talk was heard in Oz, let alone the capital, long considered the gayest place in all of fairyland.
“Despite this, I fear that my own judgment in certain matters has been less than stellar.”
That statement drew a loud response of reassurance and denial from the many who loved Ozma, but she put up her hand to silence them and continue.
“Though rare, dark forces from within and without Oz have not stopped attempting to take over and destroy what we have created. They will not stop so long as this land is rich in all the things that make it what it is, which—regardless of what they think—is not its resources or magic. The riches of Oz are the love and peace and harmony we share with one another. We are as a nation of hearts and flowers. The decisions I have made have always come from love, love of this land, love for you, my people, and of the principles of love, which do not allow for the suffering of any, even of those who fail to understand or appreciate these things. I once said that ‘No one has the right to destroy any living creatures, however evil they may be, or to hurt them or make them unhappy.’
“Yet, in recent years, I have begun to base my decisions on a desire for your safety and security, and I began to think that this was a mutually exclusive philosophy to the previous one I’d held so dear. My grandfather, my real grandfather, that is, King Pastoria I, ruled as a tyrant. His son, Pastoria II, now the Royal Tailor of Oz, sought to be the opposite of him. My father had learned that there is a better way than violence, and for this reason he did not seek to destroy the witches who came to rule the four quadrants. Because of that stance many accused him of being weak. I do not think he was weak, but merely patient, and in time the witches were eliminated as a threat.
“Early in my reign, some had called me foolish for failing to act with what they call strength in eliminating the evil armies that had arrayed against us under the command of Roquat the Nome King. I knew, as my father before me, that a land that is so consecrated cannot be destroyed from without. It can only be destroyed by us abandoning the principles upon which this land was set aside. Oz is not the first fairyland, nor is it the last, but it is one of the few that has not allowed itself to be taken over by the shadow of greed, violence, exploitation and war. True strength comes not from imposing our will on others, nor from punishing with violence our enemies, but from love, and with that wisdom, justice and power in balance.
“But this test goes on, and even I was influenced by the voices of anger, frustration and oppression. I understood firsthand what it was to be ruled by a witch, and in my attempt to bring forth what I thought was a stronger approach, I lost my way. In my frustration with the forces of darkness, great or small, I forgot who I was, who Oz needed and expected me to be, and I began to grow closer in thought to the rulers of the outside world, for whom mercy and love are foreign and foolish words, for whom the reverence we have for life is a concept long ago lost and forgotten.
“Thanks to my friends and counselors, I have been reminded of who I am and what Oz is, and I promise you that I will not allow fear, anger or the desire for revenge to rob us of our inheritance as it has in so many lands. We will continue to serve as an example of what the worlds might have been, and might yet be!”
The room now erupted in shouts of joy and praise, and Ozma had to wait a few minutes for it to die down. “To that end, I have endeavored to undo some of the poor choices I made along the way. Most recently, I had sent the mischievous but otherwise harmless tribe of Gypsies—who I now know are rightfully called the Romani people—to a place called southern Europe in the outside world. I have brought them back to Oz. It is not within my power to bring all of their brothers and sisters from the outside world here, though I would if I could, for they are a persecuted people. Yet, the cutoff between the world of mortals and the world of faerie came long before my time, and these are irresolute laws I cannot break, save for those few who find themselves here by magical or natural means. Years ago, this tribe of Romani found their way into Oz, and continued their traditions here. Now at last they have their own beauteous land, an oasis upon the Deadly Desert that the Wizard and I have made for them called the Fountains of Romany, north of the kingdom of Pumperdink, whose rulers have thoughtfully welcomed these refugees and allowed them to freely cross their domain. There, with a magical race of desert ponies that can traverse the desert, they will be free to live and travel as they wish in peace. I have spoken to them of the laws here in Oz, and they have gladly agreed to abide by them. I know you will all endeavor to show them the love and respect that you share with all your fellow citizens.”
This caused an outburst of clapping and hollering. Ozma allowed it to settle on its own before continuing: “Secondly, I had attempted to give the bandits who’d traveled with Re Alla Bad, the former king of Seebania, an opportunity to live honestly with their fellow man by requiring them to work as farmers. This has not proved the success I’d hoped it would be. Furthermore, it’s been brought to my attention that they had committed murder against their fellow creatures.” The crowd gasped at this revelation, as it had not been well known. “Although this was before I came to the throne, the Law of Lurline was yet in the land at that time, and even before then the Law of Conscience is upon all at all times, so that they have no excuse, just as they have no excuse to steal from a land in which all one has to do is ask to receive. Therefore, I am removing them from Oz. I cannot inflict them on the outside world, as it has its own share of liars, murderers and thieves, but neither will I tolerate their presence here. They have been banished to an island of former pirates and bandits in the Nonestic, where once the Good Witch of the North sent the rapacious Bridlecull clan. There is plenty of food that grows there, and the Wizard has cast a spell about the island so that no living creature will go near or set foot upon it, though the gulls are vigilant and the porpoises keep watch.”
Again, cheers broke out, loudest perhaps from the bear Snufferbux, who had been threatened by the bandits and saw in their den the grotesque “trophies” of the creatures they’d killed, and with him the Tin Woodman roared his approval, as he was renowned Oz over for tolerating no violence in his domain.
“Thirdly, in keeping with my earliest stance, I have restored Mooj and given him water from the Fountain of Oblivion to drink in the hopes that he will become a better citizen in the future.” Ozma was surprised to hear cheers for this, as well, and she moved on. “Lastly, Dorothy has restored to life the various beings who for a time were alive in the Royal Kitchen, given life by an inadvertent wish of my kitchen maid Fran.” This brought even louder applause, as the cleavers and living vegetables hooted and hollered, and even Ozma herself laughed. “Some of the living utensils have opted to go to Utensia, while some of the living foodstuffs have chosen to go to Bunbury, where King Hun Bun now rules, and which the Wizard has expanded. The rest, however, have requested their own domain and I have granted them this. Glinda has aided in bringing about a new town called Cookry Land in the Quadling Country, which will be their residence, and to that end they have already chosen their new Queen of the Flour Folk, the very one who first brought them to life, my former kitchen maid, Fran!”
A long ovation followed, and when that settled down, Fran was invited, along with King Hun Bun, the dog Ginger Snaps, King Jo-John, the Royal Dough Dough Bird, Mr. Pepper, Mr. Cleaver and King Kleaver to the dais, where she spoke, thanking Ozma and the living utensils and food people. “Only in Oz could such a thing have occurred! With a magic wand, I made a wish and it came true. Now with the greater magic of love, I hope to guide a benign and tender community of people who happen to be made of wood, metal, vegetables, grains and fruits, and who are currently building me my own castle made of wooden bowls and spoons! Together with nearby Bunbury, our endeavor will be joined with the Gelatin Isles, Jelly Bean Island, and the Royal Kingdom of Cake in the Land of Dough Dough, all of which Jinnicky the Wizard of Ev long ago created to help feed the people of this great continent. We will make it our aim to ensure that all across Nonestica none will go hungry, as they share in the abundance of delicious and nutritious treats we will produce!”
The bark of Ginger Snaps was the cue for everyone clapping to settle down and for King Hun Bun to stand. After praising Ozma, Dorothy and Fran, the king said, “Before today, Bunbury lived in fear. It seemed that not even a princess could enter our domain without being tempted to eat us.” At this, Dorothy began to blush, but the king stopped her. “No, my dear. The fault was our own. We refused to see what a temptation we were to outsiders, and did nothing to alleviate that situation except grow resentful and insular. I was elected king some years ago because I knew we needed a better strategy, and now it’s at hand. We will bake non-living cakes and cookies and treats that we’ll serve to all our welcome guests and visitors so that they’ll be so full, they won’t be tempted to take a bite out of us or our property! Captain Jelly Roll and his police force will ensure that no true miscreants break our rolls, I mean laws. We will also share with Cookry Town our baking secrets and excess goods, which they will distribute to the wide world.”
The roar of excited clapping and cheers lasted long and loud, and was only broken by the announcement of a grand feast to celebrate all the happy tidings in the land.
During the party, Glinda and the Wizard discreetly approached Ozma. “You know, my dear,” said Glinda, “that we’re beginning to have more and more relations with the nations outside of Oz.”
“I had always hoped we would,” Ozma replied. “It’s one of the reasons I had you remove the Barrier of Invisibility.”
“Which I still suggest we restore,” the Sorceress responded soberly. “There is too much unknown in the lands outside of Oz. We haven’t yet even learned all of the kingdoms and hidden realms within Oz.”
“I understand your concerns,” said Ozma with sincerity, “but in this case, I think the good outweighs the bad. At least for the time being.”
“Provided we’re vigilant,” added the Wizard, “I think we’ll be okay. Like you said in your speech, we’re a blessed land.”
“Blessed we may be,” said Glinda, “and I have no doubt the fairies watch over us. But hearts and flowers can still be broken.”
“True,” said Ozma thoughtfully, “but in Oz they will always heal.”
For Synopsis and Continuity notes, go here