An Old Man and his Horse Walk into a City

As the rickety wagon slowed to a stop, the old man holding the reins gazed up at the towering spires of Emerald City. The sun’s rays caught and reflected through the crystal constructs in magnificent beams of green that sparkled and held testament to the majesty of such a place. Majesty or not, it was still a city and any city worth naming had a gate and any gate worth it’s hinges had a guard who was all too eager to make it clear that passage through such gate happened at his discretion alone.

The gates to Emerald City were impressive in their own right even if they were open wide at this time of day. The old wagoneer waited for the obligatory guard to approach and inquire as to his business. It was a routine question asked of all those entering the city when they weren’t recognized by the guards.

“Halt, in the name of Oz.” Just such an obligatory guard walked up to the wagon with his mighty hand held out to bar passage to any unworthy of entrance.

“I can’t make the horse halt any more than he is.” The old man removed his lumpy hat and scratched at his gray head.

“Er, right. State your business in Emerald City.” The guard looked a tad less sure of his awesome powers of ingress.

“Well now, I’m confused. Do you want me to stay outside the gates, or cross through this gate and state my business from within the city?” The old man indeed had the reins in hand and was ready to urge the horse forward again.

“Nope, Nope. I want you to remain where you are, but state the reason for your visit to our fair city.” Crisis averted; this guard was top notch.

“Our fair city? If it’s our fair city then it stands to reason it’s at least partially mine and why should I have to state the reasons for visiting my own city? “ The old man had a point.

“Are you trying to be funny with me, old timer?” Ah yes, there went the puffed-up chest of a true professional. He clearly meant business and wasn’t going to take any sass from this old man. Well, not any more sass than he’d already been served.

“You know, I have indeed been trying to crack fun and humor for the past seven days, but neither you or the horse seem to laugh much. Any chance you might be related?” Mr. wagonman, you go too far.

“Now you listen here, traveler. I’ve half a mind to throw you in a cell for a day or two and we’ll see who’s laughing then.” By this time two other guards had approached and were snickering behind the first’s back. Poor Portcullis Pete was not the brightest cookie in the shed. From over Pete’s shoulder the ranking guard forced the smile from his face and called out, “There’s a line building up behind you, feller. Are you looking to find trouble in Emerald City?

“I am absolutely not searching for trouble.”

“And what business will you be conducting in Emerald City?” The older guard seemed almost bored by this point and was already looking at the travelers and wagons lined up behind this old man’s.

“I’m returning this borrowed wagon to my brother. He was good enough to lend me it for a load of beets I had to bring to market.” The old man plopped his hat back upon his head and readied the reins.

“Enjoy your visit to Emerald City. Move along.”

Our old man wagon driver gave a crisp salute to the older guard and a cheeky wink to the first then headed into the city.

~~~Emerald City~~~

The old man unhitched the horse and looked up and down the darkened sidestreet where he’d pulled his wagon. The horse’s eyes began to glow red and it’s brown hide turned black as it morphed from quadruped to the bipedal Shadow Walker. Where the old man stood moments before now stood Cassia Rathmore. The wicked witch was dressed in lively colors of white and blue, but her hair was dark as ever. Either Glinda no longer warded the entrances to Emerald City or Cassia’s spell had fooled more than a few simpleton guards.

Cassia reached up and laid a caressing hand on the Shadow Walker’s disgusting chest. “Stay to the shadows until you see my signal. I won’t have my plans marred by your untimely carnage.” She gave him a pat and spun around in a flurry of skirts to make her way out into the main streets of Emerald City.

OOC: Now that most of the characters are within the same location we can proceed directly to the wanton villainy....erm.... to the fun. Yes, the fun, that's what I meant.

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