Chapter Five: Impossible Comes True
It all made sense. Of course the aerialist would have sent her to the ringleader/ringmaster of the Carnival of Crime. The four and their furry four-legged companion came to the end of the hallway and entered the throne room. Sure enough, the carnival's Master of Ceremonies, Max Malini, sat regally upon the throne, garbed in purple regalia. Emeralds glinted from the golden crown upon his head and Jamie belatedly realized that in this case 'Wizard' went hand in hand with the role of King.
"I AM KOZ," Max boomed, his already deep voice echoing off the walls of the large chamber, "THE GREAT AND POWERFUL."
Oh, how had she not realized his identity before? It wasn't as if Gregor Molotov was the first "Kozmo." "Kozmo" wasn't just an alias. It was a title that was handed down, along with the midnight-colored cape that now covered her shoulders, from master to protégé—or, more accurately, from one killer to the next. Or, at least, that's how it had been until Max Malini had decided he was going to break the tradition once and for all, refused to use the spider silk cape to kill anyone, and handed it down to a would-be hero, passing over his former student, Gregor.
"WHO ARE YOU?" Max concluded.
Rollo exchanged a look with Vince. Jamie interpreted it as: "Max has been drinking too much if he doesn't even recognize us."
"If you please, Your Wizardry," Vince stepped forward. "'Tis I, Vince Faraday, the, er…" Vince wasn't sure how to finish the sentence.
"The reckless and foolish," Peter suggested.
"Max," Rollo jumped in, "we've come to ask—"
"SILENCE," Max commanded. "THE GREAT AND POWERFUL KOZ KNOWS WHY YOU HAVE COME. YOU, FARADAY, HAVE COME TO ASK FOR A BRAIN. AS IF YOU WOULD KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH ONE," he managed to skeptically shout.
"He's got a point there," Fleming agreed.
"YOU, ROLLO, HAVE COME TO ASK FOR COURAGE. I CAN'T BLAME YOU. YOU'RE NOT WORKING FOR ME AGAIN UNTIL YOU FIND SOME."
Even with the room's acoustics and Max raising his voice, he shouldn't sound quite this loud unless…ah, he had a microphone clipped on. That would do it.
"As for you, Fleming," Max finally lowered his voice, though the microphone continued to project it, "are you ready for me to return the heart you had me remove?"
"No, thank you," Peter finally addressed the Wizard. "I've come because I want revenge on those who took my family from me."
"In that case, THE GREAT AND POWERFUL WIZARD OF KOZ SHALL GRANT YOUR REQUESTS."
"You will?" Rollo asked.
"BUT FIRST YOU MUST PASS A SMALL TEST. BRING ME THE VODKA BOTTLE OF THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST."
Vince and Rollo exchanged another look.
"A small test, huh? Wouldn't we have to kill him to get it?" Vince asked.
"It will be my pleasure," Peter grinned, without waiting for Max to answer Vince's question. Jamie realized that in her father's case killing the Wicked Witch was his request. In this pseudo-Oz, Molotov had killed his family.
"Good. Now go," Max ordered, dismissing them. "I said, 'GO'!" he repeated when the group didn't obey him the first time. Rollo led the way, running out of the palace as fast as his legs would carry him.
"That's not possible," Fleming shook his head adamantly. "My daughter is not in league with Orwell. She would never betray me like that."
"Is that so? We are still talking about the headstrong young lady who ran away from home and cut her father out of her life several years ago?" Lucifer queried.
"I'm telling you she wouldn't do that to me," the billionaire insisted.
"You also told us that she fled when you tried to speak with her at the masquerade," the Devil pointed out.
"You have investigators looking into Orwell, too?" Maze asked.
"Well, of course I do. My lawyers have to know who to sue for libel," Peter claimed.
"Uh-huh, I'll bet," Maze snorted. "You really shouldn't lie to us. Hand it over."
"Hand what over?"
"All the data the other bounty hunters gathered on Orwell for you. I'm going to cross-reference it against what we have on your daughter."
"That would be a waste of time! I need to get to my daughter now!"
"Then you need to let me do this my way. Hand it over," Maze repeated. "Don't make me ask a third time."
"Oh, perhaps I didn't mention when I introduced Maze earlier—she's one of Hell's best torturers," Lucifer explained. "Well, at least she was until she followed me to L.A. I'm afraid she's not enjoying this little vacation as much as I am."
"It's going on eight years, Lucifer! Who calls that a 'little vacation'?" she demanded.
"Immortals, naturally," he replied, before turning back to the human. "She so loves her work," he confided. "I wouldn't try her patience if I were you."
"'Witch's Castle This Way. I'd Turn Back If I Were You,'" Rollo read the sign. "Guys, are we sure we don't need more weapons?"
"We'll be fine, Rollo," Jamie assured the carnival's strong man.
"Doesn't anyone else have a bad feeling about this, though?" Rollo asked, as the motley crew made their way through the forest.
"What's the matter, Rollo? You afraid that spooks are going to attack us?" Vince teased.
"Go ahead and laugh. I'm just saying we could have brought some more ammo and," he stopped talking, his eyes going wide at something that he had spotted.
"Rollo, what is it?" Jamie asked, turning to look up at what he had seen. She blinked, not trusting her eyes. Dominic Raoul, the smuggler known as Scales, was headed their way.
His skin condition came as no surprise to her. Everyone knew that Scales got his moniker because his greenish skin looked more like the hide of a reptile than the complexion of a human. But her drug-addled mind had conjured a pair of massive green-tinted wings to go with his skin. He was gliding on those wings now and headed straight towards them.
"The flying monkeys," she muttered to herself. This was the part in the movie where the flying monkeys attacked Dorothy and her friends. She had been hoping that they could skip over that part altogether. No such luck.
"Well, you were right about one thing. Your daughter's not in league with Orwell," Maze reported.
"Now that we've finally established that—"
"Let me finish," Maze interrupted the CEO. "Your daughter is not in league with Orwell because she is Orwell."
"No, that's not," he shook his head in denial. "She can't be—" Jamie couldn't possibly hate him enough to be the mysterious figure exposing his schemes left and right to turn the public against him.
"She can and she is," Maze pronounced, before laying out for him all the evidence that pointed to that inescapable conclusion.
"There you go, Fleming, I told you that you had absolutely nothing to worry about. Your daughter is perfectly capable of taking care of herself without you," Lucifer remarked after Maze finished speaking. "Now that you've got that load off your mind, you can go back to Palm City. Maze will send you her bill and I'll drop by when I'm ready to collect on our deal."
The father felt numb. His daughter was Orwell? He had no idea that Jamie hated him that badly. But even worse than that, if his daughter was Orwell, then he was right. She needed him.
"Neither of you have read…her…blog lately, have you?" Peter asked when he finally found his voice.
"Can't say that I have," Lucifer shrugged. "Personally, I prefer Twitter or Instagram. Is she on there?"
Wordlessly, Peter took his smartphone out of a pocket of his designer suit and navigated to Orwell's blog. He handed it over to the nightclub owner.
"What's so riveting then? Oh. Dad really did give humans a sixth sense about these things, then," Lucifer grimaced after he read the latest blog entry.
It wasn't posted by Orwell. Her friend had posted for her to tell her readers that Orwell was missing.
"Let go of me!" Jamie struggled in Scales' arms, but it was no use. Although she had fought back and her friends (and father) had tried to protect her, Scales had lifted her (and, oddly enough, Frodo) into his arms and was flying to Kozmo's castle.
"I really don't think you want me to let go of you just yet, luv," Scales nodded at the ground, which was rather far below them, to emphasize his point. "That cape's rumored to be bulletproof, but I'd wager it's not ground-proof, if you get my drift."
"You disgusting, slimy bastard!" she yelled at him as he started their descent.
"You're lucky. If Kozmo weren't expectin' you, I'd be tempted to find out for meself if the Blackbird can fly solo," he retorted as they landed on one of the castle's balconies. "As it is—"
"Ah, Dominic, you found Daddy's Girl! Thank you for bringing her," Molotov greeted him. "Off you go then. I'll be in touch."
"Let me go," Orwell demanded after Scales had flown off.
"Daddy's Girl, you can leave as soon as you give me that cape."
"Never. Frodo, NO!" Jamie exclaimed, as the pooch jumped off the balcony without warning. She approached the edge cautiously. There was no way that her dog could've survived a fall from that height…
…Then again, none of this was real, she reflected, as she saw the dog, seemingly unhurt, scamper away.
"You're going to have bigger problems than your little dog if you don't do what I say," Molotov grabbed the blogger's arm. "Come with me. Let's see if you're willing to part with that cape after you've had some time to think things over."
"Alright, no need to panic, Chess. We'll locate her," Lucifer promised. What would the Detective do? "Any idea who was the last person to see her? Come on, think. We know now that she's Orwell. What would Orwell have been investigating when she went missing?"
"The docks," Peter said slowly. "I'm in the process of purchasing Palm City's coastline, so that I can control the ports. Orwell would have been looking for a way to stop me."
"And how would she go about doing that?" Morningstar prompted him. "Hm? Don't tell me that every damn real estate attorney in your city is now a suspect."
"The city assumed control over the land when the landowners, the Chandlers, died," Peter frowned. "There were rumors that one of them might have survived… According to the blog, she was looking into that. She was looking for the Chandler heir."
"Well, we'd better find this Chandler then."
"He's just a myth," Fleming protested.
"Myths don't kidnap people," the Devil corrected him.
"There's got to be a way out of here," Jamie murmured. Molotov had locked her in a room. The door wouldn't budge and there didn't seem to be another exit. There was just a stupid hourglass and a large crystal ball…
She startled as she felt something she couldn't see. Her fingers twitched at the odd sensation. What was going on…? The realization hit her suddenly.
She was finally feeling something from the real world. She was able to actually move her fingers, and they had brushed up against an IV needle—the needle that was intravenously delivering the Lich's hallucinogen to her system. She closed her eyes so she could concentrate on pulling the needle out. If she could stop the flow of drugs, she would be able to wake up… There! She smiled as the IV slid free.
She opened her eyes. She still saw Kozmo's castle, which meant she was still experiencing the influence of the drugs.
But something was different. The crystal ball in the room had lit up, showing her Conrad Chandler's gruesome face. Was he wearing a tux?
"I do," he vowed.
"And do you," a voice came from the background, "Julia, take Conrad Chandler to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for as long as you both shall live?"
Oh dear god, Chandler was trying to marry her while she was drugged!
"DAD, HELP!" she tried to scream. It came out as more of a whimper, but based on the expression on Chandler's face, she had spoken aloud.
"'Dad, help'?" he repeated. "You told me that you were an orphan. I thought you understood me. I thought you were like me, but you've just been lying to me this whole time."
"Conrad," Jamie began.
"Don't call me that!" the Chandler heir snarled. "Call me 'the Lich.' That's what I am, so that's what you should call me! Netta, take her out of my sight. Give her twenty CCs of the paralytic, and then bury her!" the Lich directed just before the crystal ball went dark.
Author's Note: For those of you not familiar with my writing, I don't outline my fics. So I start out with no idea of how many chapters a fic will have. Fair warning, it's possible that the next chapter will be the last one, but I won't know until I've written it.
Chapter title is from "The Greatest Show."
Thank you to those who have reviewed or followed or favorite-ed! As always, please feel free to let me know what you thought of this chapter. Constructive criticism is welcome, but flames are for fueling plot bunnies. Beware of the plot bunnies.