The Road Out of Oz Ain't Paved in Gold is an Original Character-oriented fan fiction written by Jade Encrusted Bugs.
Quite literally written from the first-person perspective of Cordelia Chopper, daughter of the Tin Woodman from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This story details Cora's point of view on the events surrounding Legacy Day, her trials and tribulations faced through both friends and enemies, and how a certain someone's pledge impacted both her as well as those around her. Both the canon of the webisode and certain details from Shannon Hale's Storybook of Legends are referenced, blending them both to weave a tale as told by the outspoken Winkie princess.
Cast in order of narration and appearanceEdit
- Cordelia Chopper
- C.J. Wogglebug, son of H.M. Wogglebug, T.E. and owned (in a slightly amusing coincidental sense) by me~
- Barley, successor of the Scarecrow.
- Leontine Timorous, Daughter of the Cowardly Lion (needs a page)~
- Nikole Chopper, daughter of the Tin Woodman and Cora's adoptive sister. Her lovely owner, Tori, has allowed me to use her with her permission~
- (Unnamed in narrative) Akito Takenaka, son of Kaguya Hime, owned by me as well and mentioned unnamed as the eyeliner, feather robe-wearing boy who nearly fainted.
- (Unnamed in narrative) Griselle Damgaard, who lol you'll have to find out where she's mentioned.
My father, ruler of the Winkies and Emperor of the West, means the world to me. Really, you have no idea. BUT – and pretending that witch girl didn't botch her pledge – if it turns out I'd take his place instead of my sister, Nikole? I don't think I'd have the heart to go through all that. I mean who wants to get chopped up in a million pieces and wind up as a hunk of metal? And what if I'm not spell-over-heels over that Munchkin guy or whatever? I mean hex, I don't even like guys that way.
And "hex"? Really?
Dunno if it's good or bad that I'm getting used to the lingo here.
Yeah-yeah, don't get me started on the heart puns. Seriously dude. You came here, looking for a story instead of some musty old journal entry thing, and I'm like writing on about a bunch of crap that's bogging down your reading time. Which really, you shouldn't – this is my diary, asshole. But honestly, I don't think anyone'll read this. Then again, maybe in a thousand years some poor sap with half a brain and nothing better to do will stumble on it and make a drinking game out of every bad usage of 2nd person narrative.
But I don't care about him. Or her. Non-binary? Dunno man. But really, let's just get on with the thing because I'm seriously starting to annoy myself.
So the morning of Legacy Day. Okay what is narrating. Have a colon because I'm bad at this intro stuff:
"Ah yes, how honored I am to finally display my preeminence!" said an over-sized tapeworm as he started trying on some blue swallow-tail coat. The other Ozian students were flooding the halls with our forerunners' outfits and stuff, and all that obnoxious termite could do was show off his dad's tacky clothes.
Okay fine, the dude has a name. A stupid name, but some parents are so stuck up they forget they probed their kid's namesake out where the sun don't shine: C.J. Wogglebug.
First bit: Stands for Colossally Jumbo-fied. Get it? He's a large-ass bug with a big ego. He doesn't get the T.E. bit til he graduates because like any Highly Magnified Wogglebug, he can't be Thoroughly Educated until he drags his feet across The System like the bloated ant he is.
Kay, let's move it:
Somewhere during all that blabbing he was all "Now, dearest Persephone, your precursor's attire seems quite a bit, ahem, quaint. How have you prepared yourself for such a momentous occasion?"
Sweet. Emerald. Ozma. How I hate it when he calls me that. But as insufferable of a douche he is, C.J. was right. The only clothes I had were my dad's old work garb from when he was still a Munchkin. The rest were all heirlooms: A tin funnel hat, two axes (one golden-handled, the other wood), the whistle he used to summon the Queen Of The Field Mice, and a diamond necklace-turned bracelets he modified after getting it from the Jackdaw's nest.
Not a whole lot, and he just had to point it out.
"Well, can't wear much when you turn to tin. Besides, Niki and me got dresses. She has them back in her dorm." I slipped on one of the bracelets, and it kind of looked good over my tin hand now that I think back on it.
I thought it would shut him up, but C.J. only dug himself deeper when he shook his head a like my answer wasn't good enough. "I see, I see. Now, which of you young ladies are to wear such, erm, humble garments?"
I swear, if his brains were even half as big as the Scarecrow's are then I'm betting that head of his is full of hot air. But anyway, I kept it short and sweet: "We're sharing. It's a 50/50 chance."
"Oh, but is it conclusive that there is nothing that tips the scale against your odds? Prothetics aside, do keep in mind of your, say, menial origins."
Some of his Munchkin lackeys snickered at me and I wanted to chop that sneer off his damn face.
Okay, context: first off, Once Upon A Time some runt of a kid was born without a hand and a foreleg, and some kinda scrawny arms. One heartwarming adoption later and now they look like a cute kickass cyborg; that kid's me, by the way. Second off? Kind of hard not to be adopted; I mean the transformation from flesh to tin is part of dad's story, contrary to popular belief. Same as Nikole, but unlike me she was found after some storm hit the East of Oz. Folks like to count her as one of them, but they like to "forget" that the storm wind blew from out of Oz. Scarecrow's calculations even say that they came in from the Chinese coast, but Munchkinlanders are pretty small-minded, imo.
As for me? Welp, I'm a Tottenhot. Found in the middle of nowhere, birth family unknown, but somehow I looked like the people from the village. Now flip around the t and h and you'll enter a realm of outdated pigeonholing thought up by a feminist white dude, your oh-so beloved, family-friendly author L. Frank Baum. A guy who apparently thought it'd be funny to describe a marginalized group like fun-loving pests at best, and inferior imps at worst. I couldn't make this up if I tried.
Like, people who don't read the books don't know we exist. People who read passed the seventh book don't want us to exist. And maybe for nonfiction-goers, it's justified. And some people in the books, like a certain swollen Wogglebug's son, turn me into a pariah just because they put Baum on a pedestal thinking that since he's dead that means he did nothing wrong in describing us a certain way.
Okay, the anvil's been dropped. Let's get things rolling:
"You know, I'm pretty good with an ax." I made sure to grip both handles when holding the rest of my dad's stuff. His gracious little smile was returned by the one-and-only-me and C.J.'s beady eyes widened in satisfying horror.
"Why, how uncivilized! For a having a father with such a kind heart, you bear quite a few axes to grind."
I narrowed my eyes on the blade of the wooden-handled hatchet. "Ugh. No puns, please."
Maybe, just maybe he'd get the memo that I wanted nothing to do with him and his so-called educated jokes. But like any inflated maggot, he didn't. "Now, Persephone-"
"It's Cora, you Colossal Ja-"
"HeeeEEEEE-Lookitmelookitme! I have a shiny!" shouted the happiest sack of hay I ever met when pointing at some golden, emerald-studded crown of his. To be honest, it looked real goofy with all that straw on his head. And (un)fortunately he saved C.J.'s life. Dude was one dig away from getting his exoskeleton smashed like a pumpkin carriage when it spoils after midnight.
Oh yeah, his name's Barley. Next Scarecrow of Oz and all that hocus-pocus. I remember the Scarecrow saying he'd meant to make a kid from scratch, but one of the farmers missed the memo before the other got working. Something about using the Powder of Life on a scarecrow said farmer and some other dude made, and that's how Barley was born. A slight surprise that the strawman didn't make him earlier, but Scarecrow's kinda skeptical about Milton Grimm and the whole purpose of his school.
But yeah. The Almost Thoroughly Educated Bigot just had to pretend he wasn't being a prick as he marveled Barley's crown: "Such wondrous coronal regalia!"
I doubted he knew what C.J. meant, but it was the same crown the Scarecrow wore when made ruler of Oz. Not that he stayed king, but not everyone passed the first book.
Oblivious, Barley bought the flattery. "Thaaaankyou~!" He bowed at us before that heavy hunk of metal fell off his bushy straw head. The bug caught it quick.
"Now-now, fair mommet, do be more vigilant in that brainless state of mind of yours." The bloated bug's sympathy sounded all fake, but Barley got his crown back with an inattentive smile. Makes me cringe, how the haysack goes on like he never heard a jab in his life.
"Soooooo, scarebro," I trailed, "need help getting a tux? Or maybe another overcoat. Kind of hard wearing a flying monkey-suit over those duds, mm?"
Barley glanced down his blue button-up shirt and pants like he thought of a suit made of actual winged monkeys. "Uuuh, nah! My dad sent me a spiffy riding coat made by a tailor with nine lives. And a matching scarf! Wanna see?"
I shrugged. "Eh, should get going. Niki's waiting for our stuff."
Okay. So she had all the time in the world and me too. But as much as I wanted to keep Barley company, I didn't want to stick around with that creepy-crawly watching us like a killer bee.
And of course, speak of the Wicked: "Very well then, I assure you both that we shall bask in our finery this evening." He tipped his head at Barley and saved an enchanting little scowl just for me. I just gripped my ax handles and shot him a raspberry.
Yawning, I uncurled some fingers to wave or something. Probably didn't look it, but yeah. "Kay. See ya Barley."
And so we parted and stuff, and somehow my writing got 20% less bad. Well actually not really. But let's get a move on:
So I got to my sister's dorm and it looked like her roommie left to get her parent's legacy outfit. Good thing too, because Great Ozma I hate early mornings. Nikole's emerald green eyes lit up when she saw Dad's stuff, but I knew the whole Legacy thing hit her nerves like they did me. Arranging it all on the middle of her bed, I just slumped on the edge right next to the pile.
"Saw C.J. again or are you still tired?"
I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. "Both."
Nikole pursed her lips. "Bleh. He just doesn't know a great sis when he sees one." Her smile came back and she ruffled a tuft of my hair that stuck under my headpiece
"Hey!" I went to guard it and thick red strands started coiling up in uneven places. Grinning wickedly, I reached and tousled up Niki's straight black hair. A million giggles and a tickle-fight after and we started sorting out the garb.
I handed her a bracelet as I showed off my own. "I think Papa didn't want us feeling bad over one of us not wearing his necklace." Niki nodded while grinning.
Our dad always worried about picking favorites on accident. He may not be perfect (and occasionally thoughtless buy y'know, no brain on him), but he has a big heart and we both agree he does a wicked good job treating us equally.
Not that I'd say the same about his subjects, but still. No sister rivalries or all that jazz, some yellow brick roadblocks aside we're pretty tight.
So the stuff was divided: I got the funnel hat since it fit better over my hair. Because I used to try to blow the damn thing as a kid half the time, Nikole got the whistle. The lumberjack stuff was split even, but honestly none of us wore it that night and we weren't going to march up the podium looking like that. I took my dress and she got hers, and when we said our goodbyes I went to sleep until my afternoon courses started up.
We brought Dad's axes with us, but I got Niki to bring bug spray in case she got seated near that know-it-all of a tick. Baba Yaga caught us and confiscated the thing (and herded us like cattle at our seats), but at least C.J. wasn't near her by a long shot.
The blades were bound with leather for everyone else's sake. Or just for the sake of a certain lion-maned girl. I mean Leontine's dad isn't the cowardly lion for nothing. My sis was spaced between Barley and lion-dork in question. I just got sandwiched between the haysack and some guy I wish I don't remember.
I could feel his excitement. Like, almost literally. Scaredork was shaking and grinning and I was thinking I should either just tell him good luck or to calm it down a spell. But I gotta say: his riding coat looked spella.
"Spella". Stay classy, Ever After lexicon.
Instead we faced each other and smiled and stuff. Or I tried to, but honestly I was kind of nervous and my nighttime energy did nothing to help. Some minutes passed by and The Man droned his speech. Ceremony started, people signed pledges, blahblahblah, some eyeliner-wearing dude in a feather robe almost fainted on stage, more signing, yadayada okay yeah you get the point now lets get to the buildup:
"Who is she?" Barley whispered and pointed out some girl in kickass getup. Not just any girl in kickass getup, but Legacy Day drama aside? I still don't get the big deal with said girl's story.
"That Evil Queen kid from Snow White. Or will be, dunno."
He nodded, but had more to ask: "She has silver on her shoes, does she?"
Fun fact: witches in Oz are supposed to wear silver-tinted footwear. Some say it's red, but it got lost in translation somehow. Guess I'll have to tell him that witches here aren't like the ones at home, but...
I caught a glimpse of them as she walked to the podium: "Yeah, sort of."
"That means she's a witch."
His voice was low. Almost didn't sound like the Barley I knew. Well actually scratch the "almost". I'd never seen Barley afraid of any witch, but his tone wasn't scared. It wasn't vicious or somesuch, just kind of grave and all. Guess her not wearing white made him know she was supposed to be evil, but I never thought he knew how to rule out good verses bad witches in Oz in the first place. Or maybe he just thought that Raven-girl was scary. I honestly don't know anymore.
Kay now, fables and gentle-tales. A little fast-forward because here's the bit where things gets heated:
“I am Raven Queen, and I’m going to write my own destiny. My Happily Ever After starts now!"
Okay, pause. I know I kind of spoiled it at the beginning. Don't even whine dude, seriously. I bet one day this whole thing'll be like some literary classic where the book foreword spoils the whole plot before you know it. Maybe that someday is now. Or some spineless insect will find my journal the next day and rip the stupid thing apart and I'll get to use my ax on something worthwhile for once. But I don't care if you're C.J. or not, and if you are then you can seriously suck it.
But yeah. Let's just pretend that the text-bomb above was filler for the mirror-shattering and Raven freezing us or whatever? Okay I have no clue what happened but she was like "hold EVERYTHING" and then I dunno, I'm bad with details. Now back to the scene:
Blinking. Shocked. And I bet you I made the most out-of-character grin a Tin Woodman's daughter could make. I heard some gasps here and there and booing from a bunch of princes and stuff because yeah, like anyone thinks a bunch of bluebloods will be hunky dory after all that.
Yeah okay, I'm kind of a hypocrite. I mean by Oz standards I'm am a princess. But I'm no Glinda let alone the next Ozma. Like, nearly no one outside the place thinks some guy made of tin = Emperor of anything. And some people in Oz, while a lot of folks treat my damn prostheses as their personal inspiration porn (@able-bodied asshats: STOP THAT NONSENSE), don't want me as a princess.
And they can suck it like C.J. should. But now I'm dropping anvils again and you didn't come here to get a moral drilled down your throat:
"Wh-what? What did she just do?"
Remember the last bit where I said Barley didn't sound the same? He still doesn't here. I don't know why but it's just jarring when he's not all cheery and happy and stuff. Like when he's happy, he's happy. And when he's confused or sad, he's really confused or sad. Like not in a you-need-to-take-stuff-for-your-mood-swings way, it's just...
Okay moving on because I'm not good at all at explaining stuff. I'm bogging you down and you know it:
So I turned to him, being all "Dude, just look. We can do whatever we want!"
Yeah, I was pretty happy about the thing. I still am kind of. We didn't go poof or anything like the Headmaster said, and that's all I cared about right then.
His frown grew bigger.
"I, but, b-but I..." and he just kept mumbling "but" and "I" like a broken phonograph player. Staring blankly, button eyes and all. I was waving my hands in front of him like it'd break him out of his trance.
"Barley? Scarebro? Dude. Barley!" I kept shouting over the ruckus all around. I swear the whole place was like a madhouse that night and I just shook his shoulders because this was just not like him.
"I-I, I don't wanna stay in the field! I just can't!" he sputtered at me and I trembled in my spot as he kept shouting on, "Why did she do that!? I can't stay, I can't stay, I CAN'T stay!"
I'll never forget how broken he sounded. Just. Completely broken. And I know me getting it all down will never describe that feeling, but that's exactly what he sounded like. And if I knew he'd have said it that night I would have given him the biggest hug and got him out of there like I should have.
Cue gawking: "Wait, what?"
Yeah, I'm that person. I'm the idiot who can't tell when their friend's having a mental breakdown. I'm a big, fat, piece of flying monkey turd who didn't connect the dots when the picture was right in front of my face until that douchebag who sat next to me grabbed Barley and pulled him away.
Oh. Did I forget to say that was C.J.? Yeah, that's why I don't want to remember him.
So our friendly neighborhood hay-dork was flailing and I was like "Hey!" and I tried chasing after the two but I lost them in the crowd. Commoners and royalty were flooding inside the building, and I lost my voice and felt like spinning and I just wanted to scream and cry and tell a bug off because everyone was yelling and excited and angry I'm just the worst friend ever.
And I could jot down the rest but I just don't feel like it. Really, everything else was a blur. I didn't see Barley for the rest of the night, not even at that stupid dance. Saw a cute girl there though, called out a certain bug-eyed creep that ogled her earlier and she wore a pretty white cape. I wasn't in the mood and she kept to herself, so I didn't ask her to dance or nothing.
So here I am, huddled under bed covers with a bright-ass fae-light on, trying not to piss off my roommate, rereading everything, crossing stuff off, and I'm still thinking over what in Ozma's name just happened. Everything passed Raven's not-pledge was just so unreal. I don't even remember where Niki or Leontine went or why I even felt happy then in the first place.
Maybe it was because the whole thing meant something to me? Like, if that girl didn't disappear, then maybe she doesn't have to be an Evil Queen and all that. Maybe I don't have to feel like I need to lose my own heart just to get the respect that I deserve from some closed-hearted Ozians.
Maybe I don't have to accept that my own subjects only care about my tin prothetics. Hex, maybe I can stop wondering if I'm going through some form of internalized hate just because I hate how the Authors That Be wrote about the Tottenhots.
I mean, it's not like I'd change who I am because of it, so that can't be it. And if anyone can flip the script, then that means they don't have to pretend that all is well in our fates. Or let alone have our justifiably indignant reactions be brushed off with an unfitting moral of minding each other's business. Right? And nothing that people dictate has power over me. No power over anyone.
Not even Barley.
Maybe he was afraid. Spur-of-the-moment and all that. I honestly feel bad for him, more now than I do ever. But I don't know what his home life is like, just that the Scarecrow of Oz checks in on him and his "dad" (one of farmers who made him, fun fact) while back home. Hex, Barley's "dad" could be some creepy old Munchkin-pyro who lights him on fire, puts it out before he's a goner, and stitches him back up for lulz and saves face whenever the Scarecrow visits for all I know.
And I don't want all that pressure. I don't want to choose between fame at a price and a life without a legacy to make my dad proud of, nor should Niki. I don't want Leontine to get laughed at just because someone's supposed to get jumpy over a few scares. And I don't want Barley to feel miserable because of all that.
Okay my hand is getting cramped. I'm not even tired and I want to forget all that happened. Maybe the status quo will return and I can just pretend I don't care about anything. I could just force myself not to think about the bigger questions and move on with life. Maybe I'll turn to tin like my dad, or take the place of the Tin Soldier that more dedicated Ozian folklorists have read about. Maybe I'll live in the Tottenhot village, where my father one brought me after my possible abandonment. Honestly, who knows?
After tonight, I doubt anything'll be the same again.
- "Mommet" is slang for scarecrow in Sommerset, England. The word itself is another form of the term mammet, meaning false god/idol. C.J. may or may not have used the dual-meaning of the word as a way to make a jab at Barley, subtly refering to how the original Scarecrow has lost his title as the ruler of Oz and was later replaced by Princess Ozma.
- Speaking of slang, and in spite of being American by anthro-bug-in-a-land-written-by-'Murican-author standards, C.J. tends to sprinkle British-associated words here and there in his speech, even going so far as to write "colour" instead of "color" and other changes regarding his literary and oral vocabulary. Basically he's the Ozian equivalent of a britaboo.
- His nickname for Cora is based on the face that kore, meaning "maiden," is an alias for Persephone. Kore is pronounced the same way as cor (the Latin root for "heart") in Cordelia.
- More to come later~