Withering heard a loud POP, then suddenly found himself falling through the sky, worried that his first (stolen) scientific discovery would be his last. Instead, as he neared the ground, he slowed, eventually coming to a stop in a thick forest.
Withering explored the forest, terrified of what he might find, when he came upon a strange sight. Two rabbits were sitting on a hill looking down into a small valley. Stranger still, the rabbits were wearing clothes and talking to each other.
“Oh hello,” the first rabbit said when he heard Withering climbing the small hill. “We just sat down to have a picnic. We’ve got some extra food, if you’d like to–”
Before the rabbit could finish, Withering grabbed a hunk of bread and some cheese and stuffed it in his mouth. The trip through the portal had made him particularly hungry. As he choked down the food, Withering sneered at the two talking animals, unsure whether they were real or merely a figment of his imagination. Grabbing a thermos from the second rabbit, he washed the bread and cheese down with tea.
Before he could berate the rabbits for being unwelcome hallucinations, Withering saw something even more bizarre than the picnic going on at his feet. At the bottom of the hill, a creature that was as tall as the trees themselves gently lumbered into a forest clearing. The creature looked like a cross between a rabbit, a bear, an elephant, a lion, and an eagle. Stranger still, it seemed to be made of fur, feathers, rocks, and grass.
“Wh-what…is that…THING?” Withering stammered.
“That’s why we’re up here,” the rabbit said taking his thermos back and wiping the lip with a handkerchief. “That’s an Ancient. We love to watch them roam the forest. They’re the reason we Earth animals are here at all. Ancients are powerful spirits of Nature.”
The other rabbit continued, “They used their magic to make holes appear in our world and bring us here. Once we got here, we found that we could do all kinds of things we couldn’t do before. We can talk and fly airships and build homes.”
“And make pies!” the first rabbit said before taking a big bite of apple pie from the picnic basket.
“Yes, and make pies. And some animals even learn to cast spells and become wizards. No one knows why the Ancients brought us here. They’re very wise and mysterious. But most citizens think it was to share their wonderful magical land.”
“Are they dangerous?” Withering said.
“Dangerous? Oh my, no! They’re the nicest creatures alive!”
Withering sneered. “Can they be controlled?”
The two rabbits gave each other confused looks. “I don’t know. I don’t know why you’d want to. Ancients protect the sprites and bogies and make sure that all of the animals live in some kind of harmony. There’s so much magic here in Dizzywood – that’s what our friend Presto calls this place – in the elixir that gathers in pools and the crystals that grow under the ground. It’s even in the trees and rocks. It’s everywhere!”
A gleam appeared in Withering’s eye and he began to mutter to himself, “magical energy, limitless power…”
“Oh, but we should warn you,” the second rabbit said. “There are monsters in this land. Trolls and swamp beasts and ogres just to name a few. Thankfully, they mostly keep to themselves. It’s not like they have a leader or an army or anything. And the Ancients make sure that the monsters don’t get too out of control. Hey…where did he go?”
But Withering had taken off, a grand evil scheme forming in his mind. A plan that would change the lives of every citizen in Dizzywood.
The story continues in Part 3 – The Self-proclaimed Emperor.