Chapter thirteen: THE WITCH

The witch's castle was not visible until the three friends had crossed a river, climbed a very high mountain and started down into a small valley. The castle was high and black, fully as high as they could see when they got close to it, and very, very black, as though a curse of everlasting mimeo ink stains had been cast upon it.

"We'll never be able to get inside that huge castle," said the Scarecrow.

"I don't know how we'll do it," said the Woodsfan, "but we have to. Dorothy is inside there, and we must rescue her."

"But ... but the witch is there too," said the Lion, who was becoming nervous again. "She might cast a hoax on us, and make us think we're serconfans or hucksters or something!"

"No witch is going to stop me from rescuing Dorothy," said the Scarecrow. "I'm going in there, and I'm going to tear that witch stick from stack; I'll rip the whole castle down; I'll put eyetracks all over her collection, and cause absolute chaos everywhere! The whole castle will be plunged into war! I'm gonna --" The Tin Woodsfan stopped the Scarecrow from rashly running up to the castle by grabbing hold of him and shoving his straw beanie in his mouth.

"Now listen to me," said the scarecrow. "You'll run right into another Exclusion Act if you just go charging into a huge castle like that. The Lion is right. The witch might even hoax you into thinking she was Dorothy, or anything like that. You can't tell what a nonfan will do when she's desperate. We have to have a defense."

"Why, we've got the greatest defense of all, right here," said the Lion. "We can all drink a little Blog, and hoaxes won't affect us. After all, Blog cures everything, from gafia to snake-bites."

"You're right!" exclaimed the Scarecrow."

And so they all drank a little Blog, and when they turned again to the castle, they could hardly believe their own eyes! For the mighty castle, which just a moment ago had towered high over their heads, was no longer there. In its place was a pillar, to which Dorothy was tied.

"Why," said the Lion, "it must have been a hoax! There was never really a castle there!"

The three friends rushed forward to free Dorothy from the pillar to which she was tied. The Tin Woodsfan took one stroke of his flashing axe to undo the cords, but was surprised when the mighty blade did not even mar the pillar. While the others were helping Dorothy up the mountain, he looked more closely at the pillar.

"Are you coming, Woodsfan?" called Dorothy. "Please hurry; the witch might get you."

But the Woodsfan, instead of hurrying to catch up with his waiting friends, opened the jug of Blog and poured the remainder of its contents on the base of the pillar. His companions could hardly believe their eyes, for this was Blog, the trufannish fluid, and the Tin Woodsman was actually pouring it onto the ground.

And then they had even more occasion to distrust their eyes, for while they watched, the shining pillar melted, swirled and dissolved into the ground, and from where it had stood came a long wailing cry.

"That was the Wicked Witch of the West," said the Tin Woodsfan. When I poured the Blog on her, she dissolved, just like a nonfan should."

"The Wicked Witch?" said the Lion. "But it looked like an ordinary pillar!"

"But it wasn't," said the Woodsfan. "When I found that my axe wouldn't scratch the pillar, I deduced that it was some sort of magic cast by the witch. I looked closer, and found that it was just a hoax, because on the base of the pillar it said PILLAR OF THE NAMELESS ONES. Well, when I readthat, I knew it was the Wicked Witch hiding there, hoping to fool us into turnin g our backs for just a moment. When I poured the Blog on her, she was liquidated!"

The travelling companions breathed a sigh of relief at this, and turned to climb the mountain and return to the Amber city, bringing the remains of the witch in the Blog jug to prove to the BNF that they had indeed liquidated her.

(Data entered by Judy Bemis)