Chapter 11 - Getting Lila Home
The next days were extremely busy for everyone at the castle; even the staff's members that didn't know Otis secret were particularly busy since Cindy wasn't there to direct them as much as usual, the porcelain girl spending most time at the workstation. Still, the blonde still took time to tell them that the wizard was working on a very special project that required her cooperation, and that there would be some big changes in the near future, basically starting to prepare them and the rest of the citizens for Otis' departure.
Once the balloon was ready, including the furnace that would heat the air, Otis had another idea for the journey; calling the anti-fairies one last time and make them produce a very powerful wind to give the vehicle a good push. After all, besides 'flight', the other main factor present on every arrival to Nick was extreme weather conditions.
"So, once the balloon is in the air, the anti-fairies will produce the necessary wind from a certain distance, so the people think it's the 'Wizard' doing his last magical trick before leaving." Otis explained Lila as they continued working on the details and the bull selected the stuff he'd carry on the balloon. "We'll need to ask for this wish beforehand; not a minute before leaving, but at least a day before."
"Okay… I can get out of the city with someone..." Lila was interrupted by Chuckie.
"I can take you there; after all, I'm the closest we have to a horse." Chuckie chuckled a bit. "Besides, maybe I'm no longer claustrophobic, but I'm still a wild animal that likes open spaces... heh, good thing I never had that much agoraphobia. I'll be glad to carry you out of town."
"Thanks, Chuckie." Lila smiled at him before looking back at Otis. "Anyway, once I call the anti-fairies, I'll give them a basic explanation, and maybe I can get Anti-Cosmo, and just him, to come back with us so you can talk with him directly. After all, you're the expert in this."
"Mmm... yes, I see your point. Okay, once we finish loading the balloon's basket, you two will go call the anti-fairies. I'll use that time to disguise myself so Anti-Cosmo will see me as a powerful wizard; I don't trust the guy to keep the secret."
"Speaking about loading..." Jenny, carrying no less than twenty suitcases and a trunk, frowned at Otis. "Are you sure you're gonna need ALL THIS?"
"I assure you, I'm only taking the most essential items." Otis declared.
"Otis, you're taking everything but..."
Jimmy interrupted Jenny by taking a kitchen sink out of the balloon. Everyone gave a look at the shrugging Otis.
"What? It's gonna be a long journey; you don't expect us to eat in dirty dishes, right?"
"Heh, taking the dog for a walk... and the lion too, uh?" Sheen chuckled while he and Carl opened the door for Lila, Chuckie and Spunky.
"Actually, it's more like a horse ride without the hooves." Lila chuckled while climbing on Chuckie's back. The lion nodded at her and then he started running, with Spunky closely behind.
"Riding a lion... aw, and I can't even get a llama." Carl sighed.
"Ask for a pony; they're everywhere these days." Sheen shrugged as they closed the door.
The 'lion ride' lasted for about half an hour, Chuckie stopping at a small forest a few miles away from the city. Lila and Otis selected this place since the distance and the trees would provide some coverage for the anti-fairies' arrival and people would be unlikely to see them. After Lila gave Chuckie and Spunky some water and a snack from her magical basket (that, as usual, she brought with her whenever going to open field), the redhead called for the flying creatures.
"The third wish already? Kids these days; you want everything as fast as possible." Anti-Cosmo chuckled slightly.
"And who doesn't?" Anti-Wanda chuckled while appearing a sandwich with her magic… and holding it with her feet while eating.
"Anti-Cosmo, it's possible for me to ask for a wish for a later day?" Lila asked.
"Mmm… interesting proposal. Well, as long as it's not for a very later day..." Anti-Cosmo tapped his chin.
"It's for tomorrow. You see, we're gonna need an ever-so very powerful wind..."
"Oh, I can do that now." Anti-Wanda changed her sandwich for a can of beans with bacon.
"Not that kind of wind." Chuckie dead-panned.
"Maybe it would be better if the Wizard explains you; but he doesn't want the people at the city to get scared by you..." Lila explained.
"Scared by us? Oh, wonder why, I asked, with a little smirk." Anti-Cosmo smirked slightly while saying this, most of the anti-fairies chuckling in response.
"So... if it's possible, we'd like to get you, and only you, Anti-Cosmo, to Emerald City, so you can discuss the wish with the wizard." Lila continued.
"I can say this about your wishes, Lila; they're not conventional." Anti-Cosmo shrugged. "Okay, I'll travel inside your basket. Now, Anti-Fairies, while I'm attending this, Anti-Wanda will be in charge…"
Anti-Wanda then ate the can of beans and bacon... literally, metal and all.
"... of entertaining you. Now, stay here and don't get into troubles without me to start and enjoy them."
A while later, Lila, Chuckie and Spunky were at the Wizard's throne room. The redhead opened the basket and Anti-Cosmo flied out, eating a quesadilla.
"Mmm… It's a good travel food."
"Glad you enjoyed it." Otis, in classic magician outfit, that reminded Lila of Disney's version of Merlin, literally appeared in front of them, using some of the many stage magician tricks he knew to simulate his powers.
"Nice to finally see you face-to-face." Anti-Cosmo grinned. "Truth be said, I thought you'd be more impressive."
"I'm a shape-shifter. I chose this aspect for a classical magical meeting. My other idea was a bull." Otis, discretely, threw a smoke bomb to the floor, and once the smoke dissipated, he was in his basic, natural shape, standing on four.
"Hey, that's a good one." Anti-Cosmo pointed.
"You should see my iguana." Otis, again, used a smoke bomb to cover up his 'transformation' to magician outfit. "Okay, let's start with this. I'll need to leave Nick for some undetermined time."
"Oh. You want me to bake you a 'So Long' cake or what?" Anti-Cosmo smirked.
"Only if you do it literally; a sweet, long cake would be a nice dessert for the trip." Otis smirked back. "But, seriously, to leave this land, you need to combine two elements; flying capacities, and extremely powerful winds. I already used my incredibly powerful magical abilities..."
"Modest, aren't you?" Anti-Cosmo rolled his eyes.
"... to create a flying vehicle. And I'll use my magic to protect my travel companions and myself through the journey; but I need the wind to kick-start the whole thing." Otis continued.
"And that's where my anti-fairies and I get to work." The blue being grinned. "Well, since this is Lila's final wish, you can count on that wind. Just tell me when and where you want it."
"Tomorrow, around noon, you'll see my flying machine over the city. You and your anti-fairies will be a bit far away so none of the citizens can see you; and then, when you see the machine, you'll produce this wind, that has to be as strong as a hurricane's and last for a very long time, enough to take the machine to Nick's outer frontiers (I'll handle the trip from that point on)... but remember, don't make it a violent, dangerous wind. You see, I'm traveling with Lila, and she has a weak stomach, so..."
"Got it." Anti-Cosmo nodded before turning back at Lila. "Guess we have a deal. And remember, Lila, you can't call us again after this wish. It's the third and last one."
"I know, and I'm ever so grateful for you to help us with this." Lila, as usual, thanked him with a respectful bow. Anti-Cosmo nodded back, and, after waving bye to both Otis and Chuckie, used his magic to teleport out of the city and back with his anti-fairies.
"Hold on a minute... they can teleport?" Chuckie arched an eyebrow. "If the anti-fairies can do this, why they fly everywhere they go? In fact, why they carried us if they could have just done this trick?"
A note magically appeared from thin air. Lila grabbed and read it.
"One, flying is better for dramatic entrances. And two, you never asked. Signed, Anti-Cosmo. P.S. This message will self-destruct." Lila yelped and dropped the note at the last part… and nothing happened, except the message changing to 'Heh, got you.''
"Well, we already made the final arrangements with our travel agent." Otis chuckled. "Let's finish loading the balloon's basket. I think I know how to bring the kitchen sink with us."
The next day, shortly before noon, Otis used some special megaphones that he and Cindy had installed at key stones around the tower to make the official announcement of his departure. The whole city heard the 'wizard' and his thunderous voice.
"Citizens of Emerald City... I, the Great and Powerful Wizard of Nick, have a very special announcement for you all! This day, after ruling over you for so many years, I'll need to leave Nick for an undetermined time!"
"WHAT?" Sheen exclaimed, along with many other citizens. He then turned at Carl. "Uh... what does 'undetermined time' mean?"
"That even he's not sure of when he'll return." Carl managed to say despite his own shock.
"Ah, thanks. Okay, back to topic… WHAT?"
"I know this is shocking for you all. However, I can't stay here any longer, and, to be honest, my presence is no longer as necessary as before. As many of you already know, both Sartana, the Evil Undead Witch of the East, and Vicky, the Wicked Witch of the West, had been eliminated for good. In other words, they're no longer a threat for your lives, and therefore my presence is no longer needed to intimidate them."
Most of the people voiced their agreement with these facts.
"And, well, honestly, if you are only having the normal government and administration problems to deal with, you really don't need a super powerful wizard to protect you." Otis paused to give the people a few seconds to ponder and agree with this too. "So, I'm taking my talents to another place where they're in great need of a wizard of my level. But fear not; I won't leave you empty-handed."
"Yes, he's giving us llamas!" Carl exclaimed.
"And no, I'm not giving you llamas. Yes, Carl, Cindy told me about you."
"Oh... Yes, the Wizard knows my name!" Carl beamed again.
"What you'll receive is… a new ruler. An unique one. Along with Cindy, my most trusted and capable advisor, you'll also get what no other city has; a scarecrow leader. Someone with magical intelligence granted by yours truly. Now, Emerald City's people, ladies and germs, one big round of applause for your new co-ruler… dramatic pause... Jimmy, The Scarecrow!"
As Otis was saying this, Jimmy, with Cindy closely behind, appeared at another of the palace's terraces, one that allowed most of the citizens to see him. Almost instantly, they started chorusing his name, and when he told Cindy to move aside him, the girl was equally praised by the citizens. Inside his tower, Otis heard this and smiled, happy for leaving the city in such good hands.
"Okay, guys, get the balloon ready. I'm making the final announcements." Otis said to Chuckie, Jenny and Lila, the trio obeying him, while he got back to talking at the megaphones. "Obey and respect Jimmy and Cindy as if they were myself, just with less magic and more straw and porcelain. I know they'll do a wonderful job. And now, as my final magical act, you'll all see me ascending and going up, up and away from Nick. And, once again, thanks for your loyalty, love and some other good thing that starts with an 'L'. This is the Wizard of Nick saying 'So Long, Everybody'!"
Otis chuckled and smiled when hearing the many citizens cheering for him. He'd definitely miss this part of the job. The bull sighed, put on the proper outfit (a pilot's disguise) and went to his tower's rooftop, where he activated a series of levers that opened it for the balloon.
The balloon started levitating out of the workstation, behind held in place by a series of ropes connected to a central polley, that would release them all with a single pull. Otis, being already at the rooftop, had no problems to get on board.
"Alright, guys, it's time. I already said goodbye to Jimmy and Cindy, so, once Lila gets in here, we'll be out of..." Otis paused when seeing only Jenny and Chuckie there. "And where's Lila?"
"She went to find Spunky. That dog disappeared almost one hour ago." Jenny said.
"Well, hope she finds him soon. It's almost time to go." Otis replied while giving the balloon a final check-up.
Lila, meanwhile, was calling Spunky's name while looking for him all over the palace. She had already checked out the kitchen and most rooms without success.
"Oh, Spunky, where are you?" Lila was now getting worried until she passed next to a closed door, hearing obvious doggy noise. She opened the door, realizing it was a closet room, and finally found Spunky… hugging and caressing a mope.
"Okay... I ever so wanna ignore what you were doing in here." Lila grabbed Spunky but the dog started whining at this. The redhead sighed and grabbed the mope so Spunky would stop complaining, and dashed back to the tower.
Meanwhile, Otis checked out his luggage one last time.
"Clothing trunk… equipment trunk… elephant trunk.." Otis held said trunk. "Heh, from the time I disguised myself as a circus elephant… I never ate so many peanuts in my life. Okay, I think I got everything… oh, right, the kitchen sink."
"Otis, don't tell us that you really are taking it with you." Chuckie rolled his eyes.
"Nah… you're right, I'm overdoing this. Better leave it here. Step aside." Otis grabbed the sink and threw it out of the basket… with enough bad luck to hit the polley. Almost instantly, all the ropes got released at once, and the balloon started elevating.
"Oh, no... Chuckie, Jenny, get the ropes!" Otis said in a hurry while trying to stop the balloon himself.
The metal girl and the lion hurried to grab the ropes, but, unfortunately, Lila and Spunky arrived at that very same moment, and, when seeing what was happening, the redhead also dashed to grab the ropes, dropping the mope in the process. The result was that Chuckie had to jump aside to avoid colliding with Lila, since he was already moving too fast to stop, and hit some of the workstation props, and Jenny, distracted by this, tripped over with the mope, falling to the floor. Lila also failed to grab the ropes since her first instinct was to see if her friends were okay, and by the time they moved again, the balloon was already out and over the tower.
"Don't worry, I'll descend a bit so you can get on board..." Otis yelled at Lila but stopped when seeing a very familiar black swarm at a distance. "No... not now! Just a few more minutes!"
The Emerald City's people, all of them looking up at the balloon, didn't notice what Otis could easily see from his aerial point of view. The anti-fairies had already seen the balloon, and, as Lila and Otis told Anti-Cosmo, they had started to combine their magical power with their supernatural flight speed, moving in circles to create a tornado-like wind while using the magic to ensure it wouldn't damage any structure or the balloon. The citizens cheered as the wind started moving the balloon at impossible speeds, taking it up and away, and their loud cheering made it quite hard for Lila and her friends to hear Otis' voice, even if they were all yelling now.
"No, Otis, please, wait, don't leave!" Lila yelled as loud as she could.
"Throw us a rope! We'll pull the balloon back here!" Jenny said while she and Chuckie also tried to get a hold on Lila, Spunky as themselves, due to the wind being so strong they almost fell to the floor plus they also had to take cover from all the stuff in the workstation that was now flying around them.
"I can't get back! And the wind won't let me throw a rope! I'm sorry, Lila! Really, I'm sorryyyyyy..!"
Otis' last yells were very hard to hear; in less than a minute, he was just too far for that, and after a few more seconds, the balloon was just a barely visible spot in the sky; and then, not even that.
The wind stopped blowing when the balloon was out of sight. Cindy and Jimmy entered the room a few moments later, and got shocked expressions when noticing Lila and Spunky hadn't left with Otis.
"W-what happened?" Cindy asked.
"We'll tell you later." Jenny sighed sadly. "Right now... I feel Lila needs some time to recover."
As Jenny said, Lila was now sobbing, with Chuckie offering his shoulder to the girl and trying to comfort her while Spunky gave her a sad look and flattened his ears, whining at the scene. Jenny, Cindy and Jimmy soon joined Chuckie at comforting their friend.
Later, at the throne room, Lila and her friends sat around said throne except for Jimmy, who was sitting on it, and Cindy, sitting on one of the seat's armrests. The redhead was petting Spunky, who, somehow, seemed to understand he was partially guilty of the balloon's fiasco, and didn't look as absent-minded or cheerful as usual.
"And, to end with this uncomfortable silence… what now?" Chuckie asked.
"I don't know. The balloon was our best idea to send Lila home." Jimmy sighed. "Even if we make a new one, Otis was the only one with the experience and technical knowledge to navigate it."
"And even with his knowledge, we have no way to know if he made it." Cindy sighed now, everyone taking a moment to ponder about this and worry a bit about the bovine 'wizard', hoping he'd make it to a civilized place.
"Plus, I no longer can call Anti-Cosmo and his friends, so we wouldn't have the magical wind to impulse the balloon." Lila looked down.
"Then, we're out of ideas." Jenny rubbed the back of her head. "Maybe we can come up with something else, but… that will take time."
Lila had to make an effort to not break in tears again. She couldn't help but worry about what her father and friends in Hillwood would be thinking right now; it had been several weeks now since she disappeared. Sure, she was in a good place, and her friends would comfort her, but, without Otis around, her hopes to return home were now almost gone for good.
"Well… you can always go for the third option." Cindy thought out loud, getting everyone's attention. "Remember, Nick has two good witches and used to have a 'wizard'. The first witch couldn't help sending Lila home, and Otis is gone, so that leaves us with..."
"The other good witch; the South one!" Jimmy exclaimed. "You think she can do it?"
"Yes, I mean, Mrs Maria is a good witch too, and she couldn't send me home." Lila reminded Cindy.
"Yes, but remember that each witch has different powers and abilities; Sartana had her magical guitar and could summon undead skeletons: Vicky had control of wild animals and fire powers aside from some other spells; and Mrs Maria has her Plata Peligrosa's glove and the ability to summon/create magical items, like your basket. It's possible that the South Witch has the right powers or knowledge to send you home." Cindy commented.
"It's our best idea right now." Jenny said at a nodding Cindy. "I can go with you; besides, I already have to leave the city and return to the West to start with my ruling duties."
"And I'm going too. Besides, from what I've heard, it's not easy to get to the South Witch's lands, so Jenny and I can protect you." Chuckie smiled at the redhead.
"Good thinking. Big surprise here, there are no roads to the South Lands, and, as usual, the reason is the journey's dangers. From what I've heard, you have to get past a very dense forest, populated with wild beasts, and then, right before getting to the witch's domains, there's a territory of very hostile people that doesn't like trespassers." Cindy informed them.
"Well, I'm going too." Jimmy said, raising a hand to stop Cindy. "And yes, I know, I'm Emerald City's co-ruler now, and I shouldn't leave immediately after I got the job, but I made the promise to help Lila return home practically since day one, and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her."
"Thanks, Jimmy. Thank you all." Lila, now with happy tears, hugging her travel companions while Cindy smiled at the scene.
"Alright then. Guess I can handle the city's governing for a few days until you return. You people or whatever rest today, and tomorrow morning, you'll leave to see The South's Good Witch; Susie, from the Carmichael House."
(And that's the end of this chapter. We added a few details here since, in the original story, the Winged Monkeys, played here by the Anti-Fairies, had no role on The Wizard leaving Oz without Dorothy, plus Toto made her miss the balloon because of him chasing after a cat, unlike Spunky here, as we made a reference to one episode of 'Rocko's Modern Life' where he gets some... unhealthy affection for a mope.)
(And, of course, Susie Carmichael, who'll play the role of Glinda, The Good Witch of The South, is from the 'Rugrats/ All Grown Up' series.)