A/N: It's been a while. But during the school year it will always be. I don't own Wicked, and thus don't own the beginning quote, same with all the others. Enjoy, those of you that have made it this far.

"… a gaggle of them, tree elves… but if possible they are more moronic than the fair citizens of Rush Margins… The idea is repulsive. Elves giggle at everything, do you know that? One of the falls out of an oak and smashes his skull like a rotten turnip, and they gather and giggle and then forget about him. It's insulting of you even to bring it up." – Melena (pg 37)

The first thing they felt was heat, burning, searing, right at their backs. Then smoke engulfed them, and they stumbled forward, choking and sputtering, clinging to each other for guidance.

It wasn't long before they felt water lapping at their feet, and they realized that the heat had faded and the smoke had thinned. After a moment of awkwardness, they released their holds and turned away from each other. Grumpy made a small "Harrumph!" and then crouched down and started splashing his face with the water, which, as far as they could see, was part of a flood in the middle of a forest. They had arrived near the top of a hill and made their way down, until stopped by the water.

"So much water…" murmured Madame Blavatsky. She had paused in wiping her sooty face with one of her shawls and was staring at their surroundings. Pelting raindrops made vicious looking brown streaks scar her skin. Her eyes, already large, looked even bigger through a sheet of liquid. After gazing at the water for a moment, they flickered up to the path from whence they had come, towards the burning tree. Making up her mind quickly, she climbed back up to the edge of the fire.

Already the flames were dying, overcome by rain. One large fallen tree half-way up was soaked on the outside but burned red-hot on the inside. Steam rose from the junction, hissing. Madame Blavatsky stopped beside it, peering intensely into its heart. Without warning, there was a sharp crack and a long, thin, charred branch crashed to the ground at her feet, still burning brightly at one end. She picked it up calmly and continued her climb upwards, ignoring Grumpy, who had come puffing up beside her. He heaved a heavy sigh when he saw she meant to continue the ascension, before following with an expression of blustering indignation.

The mountain seemed to go on forever. The even, dusky blue they had arrived to had quickly faded to pitch black. Grumpy stumbled over and over, a constant stream of threats and curses pouring from his mouth. Only the fear of losing sight of Madame Blavatsky's torch kept him moving. After nearly an hour though, the torch stopped moving.

Madame Blavatsky had paused, suddenly aware of a third presence. She hovered in indecision, reluctant to extinguish her torch but wary of showing herself. A sharp twig snap settled her mind and the light disappeared.

A merry cackle followed, and then a voice called out through the darkness.

"Makes no difference!"

Grumpy froze in mid-step. It was pitch black all around now that the torch had been put out. The newcomers had to be magical Beings. By the pen of Maguire, this was bad. Slowly, he sank into a crouch behind a short bush, holding his breath and crossing his toes. Stubby, calloused fingers settled tightly around a sharp, mid-length knife at his waist.

Not twenty feet away, Madame Blavatsky also crouched, setting her darkened torch by her side. Her hands reached out a short distance into the darkness, the tips of her fingers twitching forward into claws.

"Who's there?" Her voice was harsher, more gravelly, surprising Grumpy, but it had the same surety, the same command.

The infernal cackle pierced the air again. Both Grumpy and Madame Blavatsky tried to place where it was coming from, but it was all around them.

"Show yourself," tried Madame Blavatsky.

"Come with us, come with us away," came a chorus of high, giddy voices. "Trespassers must show themselves to Lady."

Grumpy's heart skipped a beat when he heard the plural. He'd been noticed as well.

"Lady?" asked Madame Blavatsky slowly. She felt as though there was a cloth muffling her thoughts inside her head. "What Lady?"

"You'll find out, come and see."

"Is she a powerful Lady?" she pressed, trying to buy time and clear her head.

"Come and see, come find out."

There was a pause. Damn the fog in her mind, she thought.

"Where is this Lady?"

"Let us take you, follow us."

Then she felt bodies all around her, short bodies, small bodies, taking her hands and pulling her forward. She just had time to snatch up the torch-staff before she was in the middle of an unrelenting sea, flowing around trees up the hill. About thirty feet back, she could see a slightly taller figure also being hurried along, Grumpy.

"What the- get your hands off- no-stop" he sputtered fruitlessly, powerless against the multitude as they moved steadily upward.