THE ORANGE OGRES IN OZ
By Nathan M. DeHoff and Joe Bongiorno
(Expanded and revised on 5/25/16 from an original 1995 story by Nathan M. DeHoff)
To the south of the Land of Oz, just east of the Land of the Scoodlers, stand the Orange Cliffs, which overlook the great Orange River. These cliffs are home to the Orange Ogres, who dwell in the deepest caves and passageways that run for miles within the mountains. For many long centuries, the ogres were known by other names and kept to themselves, fighting amongst their own tribes and avoiding the world outside, which they feared. For generation after generation their elders had warned them that because they descended from a wicked race of beings who were defeated in the ancient wars, they must stay hidden, for should those on the outside discover their existence they would be hunted down and killed. But it came to pass that ten years ago the old stories and traditions of the elders began to grow weary to the ears of Citros, and so he determined to explore the lands outside. Citros was small for his people, but canny and stout. He knew the tribal in-fighting so prevalent in his culture was wasteful and borne from their restlessness and monotony.
Despite the elders’ warnings, Citros mounted an expedition to the lands outside the caves. After adjusting to the bright light of the sun, he began to find this new world pleasant to roam, its air fresh to breathe, its grass and trees pleasant to look upon, its waters pleasant to drink, particularly the waters from the great Orange River, which tasted akin to what we would call orange juice. He reported back to his people, and though most would not venture from their cavern homes, a large number of others—particularly from the tribes that had not fared so well against their rivals—joined him, and in time they came to enjoy it as he did. Before long, they built stone huts to live in, forsaking their dank and shadowy torch lit homes in the caves for the light of the sun and moon.
For eight years, the ogres were content to cultivate the fruit and food trees in the lands outside the caves, even trading with their fellow ogres from their former cave home. But the old stories of the elders had never left the mind of Citros, who grew angry that his people had been shut up inside holes like worms while the world outside, which seemed to offer so much, thrived and moved on without them. What right had they to suffer for the dealings of their ancestors?
Citros began to make expeditions beyond their new home, and would disappear for days on end, spying on the villages around them. Were these puny creatures the ones the elders trembled at? How much stronger they were than them. Then one day, a year ago, he came face to face with one of these. “What kind of creature are you?” Citros asked.
“I… I am a human,” the creature said. “A man; Amigus is my name. And you are… an ogre, I presume?”
“I am Citros, of the… Orange Ogres,” he said, naming his newfound tribe.
“Orange Ogres!” the man exclaimed, and then warily asked, “Are there many more of you?”
It was then that Citros saw the fear in the man’s eyes, and knew that these humans were nothing to tremble at. "Yes there are." The humans would make restitution for all the years they had forced his people to spend in the darkness afraid of fairytales and stories.
Thus it came to be that every month, the ogres would depart their homes to raid nearby towns. They took all of the treasure from these villages, although they had no use for it save as trophies, indications of their victory over their former oppressors. Their strategy worked without fail. The appearance of them in any village at night was terrifying to the people who had no time to escape, let alone mount a defense, and those few souls who fought back were either subdued or in rare instances killed. The ogres took no pleasure from this, but they would neither brook resistance from those who they felt had, although unwittingly, kept them in bondage for so long. They kidnapped youthful men and women as slaves, and left the old and weak behind. The slaves were made to tend the orange groves that surrounded the river, or to wait on the ogres. When the tribes from the cliffs discovered the success of their kinsman living on the outside, they at last joined them. The elders sought to make Citros the Ogre King, but he determined that the Orange Ogres would have no ruler, but a Council—made up of the ten of the most successful ogres, one from each of the tribes. There would be no more in-fighting, and together as one they would make decisions, such as which of the villages to pillage.
One day, late in July, the Council came across a problem. All the towns within a twenty-mile radius had already been raided by them. By this time, the ogres had grown lazy from having their slaves do most of their work, and so they refused to walk to a village that lay more than twenty miles away. The Council members were forced to think, which did not come easily to many of the Orange Ogres. After three hours of deep thought and foolish suggestions, Citros, the most intelligent member of the Council, came up with an idea. “If no one’s willing to walk, then let us use the river,” he suggested.
“The river?” questioned Seads, an obese ogre with most of his teeth missing.
“Yes, the river. We’ll ride boats down the river, and we’ll be sure to come to a town eventually. Once there, we’ll raid it.”
“But we don’t have any boats,” objected Polp, a tall ogre with long ochre hair.
“Some of our slaves must know how to make boats. We’ll make them build the vessels, and then we’ll make them row. That way, we won’t have to do any extra work.”
The rest of the Council roared in approval of this idea, and so popular was it that the entire tribe of Orange Ogres determined to go. A search was soon made for humans who could construct boats. Eventually, a dozen carpenters were found, and these were put to work making vessels, as well as oars, from the orange trees, which, in the ogres’ territory, sometimes grew to enormous proportions. Eventually, a fleet of fifty boats, each large enough to carry five ogres (or four ogres and two humans), was created, plus an additional twenty empty boats for treasure and any good stock of human chattel they came across. These were tied to the backs of the boats that had captains.
Eight days after they were all completed, the entire two hundred and forty-seven Orange Ogres, adults and children, armed themselves with swords and spears, and directed the fifty human slaves to begin rowing down the Orange River. The remaining slaves were sent back to their homes to tend those left behind, but mainly so they could be captured again in the event that they came back empty-handed.
Luckily for the slaves, the current carried the boats most of the way, so the oars were largely unnecessary. After a little while of flowing to the north, the river splinters into several tributaries. The one they followed led to a hidden and little known tributary that flows underground, through sparkling titian caverns. The Orange Ogres were less concerned of the beauty of the place as they were about who or what might dwell there. They were a superstitious lot, and knew that caverns held strange and deadly creatures, perhaps even unknown tribes of their kind, and so they were anxious to get back aboveground and find a human town to raid. They thus threatened their slaves that they would drown them if they led them to a dead end. It was not until two days after they had descended that the humans could breathe a sigh of relief as the river emerged back above ground near a small village in the southwestern Quadling Country of Oz, a few miles west of South Mountain.
“At last!” shouted one ogre in the lead boat. “But what a red land this is!” This was quite true, since most of the buildings in the Quadling Country were red. Although the river retained its orange color, the flowers and trees that grew on either side were tinted with many different shades of red. Yet, it made them nervous, as they associated red with the colors of war and blood, and though they were fierce and strong, the stories of the ancient days haunted them still.
At the order of their masters, the humans rowed the boats to shore. After everyone had gotten out of the vessels, the people pulled the crafts up onto the banks. While a few ogres stayed behind to guard the slaves and the boats, the others ran toward the village, brandishing their weapons. As it was night, the villagers were taken by surprise at the sight of the ferocious creatures, and as they had no weapons with which to defend themselves, the place soon fell to the marauders. The creatures discovered a great deal of gold, silver, and jewels. But the most exciting discovery was made at the library.
“Look at this green city,” stated Citros, while pointing to a picture in a book. The picture depicted the Emerald City, the famous capital of Oz. Although the ogres could not read, they obtained some idea of the wealth that this city contained from the pictures in the book.
“We must go to this green city and capture it,” said Citros. “We’ll have more wealth than we ever imagined.”
If the ogres had known of the powerful magic that the Emerald City contains, they might have been reluctant to try to raid this place. After all, Ozma, a powerful fairy, and the great Wizard of Oz both live in the City, and the Magic Belt and other magical properties are stored there. However, the ogres had no knowledge of these facts, so they decided to travel to the “green city.” When Citros asked the librarian where the city was, she replied that it lay to the northeast of the village. Since the Orange Ogres knew that the Orange River flowed in a northeasterly direction, they returned to it, forsaking the town save for some of its treasures.
Now, the Orange River ends in an expansive lake that many around those parts said tasted like orange juice, and is located near the base of Big Top Mountain. Many of the giants who live on this mountain come down in the mornings to drink from the lake. On the morning after the ogres had conquered the small town, one of the giants had a surprise in his glass of juice from the lake.
“There’s something solid in this juice,” the giant complained to his neighbor.
“It’s probably just seeds, or pulp,” said the other giant. Actually, the giant was partially correct, since the solid object was the orange boat containing Seads and Polp, as well as two human rowers.
“It’s a boat,” stated the first giant, as he held the craft in front of his right eye, “and there’s something alive in it.”
“Really? Let me see!” shouted the second giant.
The giant who had discovered the boat tried to pass the vessel to his neighbor, but he accidentally dropped it on the ground. As they were forbidden by their monarch, King Orlando, to eat or even snack on living creatures, even ogres, they let them go. The ogres, of course, didn't know this, and terrified by the giants, who they only knew as dangerous monsters in their tales, promptly abandoned their boats and forced their slaves onto land. They then began a forced march to the northeast. It was then that the grumbling amongst the ogres began. "Why do we have to risk life and limb against giants and who knows what else when we are perfectly content as we are?" "Who knows what terrors lurk in this green city?" "We should make a vote to return home." These grumblings started out amongst only a few at first, but like all gossip, it soon grew and spread until it reached the ears of Citros, who resented how his fellow ogres doubted him and questioned his decisions.
After a day of walking through pleasant red countryside, they reached a road of yellow brick. By grabbing and interrogating a nearby Quadling farmer, they learned that this road led to the capital.
The southern gate of the Emerald City was open when they approached it, as the Guardian of the Gates was admitting a visiting group from a nearby village school. The ogres rushed through, shoving aside the Guardian when he noticed them and tried to ask what their business was in the city. When the creatures reached the palace, they were able to distinguish it as an important place. So they rushed up to it and hurried through its beautiful gardens without so much as a glance at the many interesting plants. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers was marching back and forth in front of the castle doors, but he quickly ran inside when he saw the armed ogres advancing upon him.
The invaders followed the Soldier into the palace and through its halls. They finally came to the Throne Room, where Ozma was sitting on her throne, reading the daily Ozmapolitan, the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger were sleeping by the sides of the royal chair, the Wizard was reading a newspaper from the outside world, the Patchwork Girl was turning cart-wheels, and other famous Ozites were engaged in a variety of other activities. Citros entered the room, and as his strongest ogres threw nets over the large beasts, he yelled, “You must now surrender to the Orange Ogres! You will all become our slaves, and all of your treasures will be turned over to us!”
The Ozites in the room, except for the Soldier, laughed at this threat, thinking it was some sort of joke, until dozens of other ogres entered the chamber. At that time, Ozma arose from her throne and rushed to the wall safe where she kept her most powerful magic items. But sensing they she was obtaining some kind of weapon, Citros tackled her before she could get there. Shortly after, all of the Ozian celebrities were captured by the invaders, though they found the non-meat creatures, such as the Scarecrow, Tik-Tok, Scraps, and others, frightening and herded all one into a rarely used gallery, along with the many talking animals. Enjoying the way the ogres were afraid of them, Citros took Jack Pumpkinhead as his personal servant.
The smaller animals, like Toto, Bungle, Eureka, Billina (and her offspring), amongst others, were wise enough to hide, for they had long ago developed contingency plans in the event of a takeover, which although rare in Oz, had happened enough times in the past to convince them of the wisdom of such a course. Billina and Eureka still had memories from their time in the Outside World, and knew that there were those who would do them harm, or view them as things to be killed and eaten. So, safely hidden away, they plotted with each other and with the mice who lived in the palace, to send someone to Glinda or Maggie, the Good Witch of the North, for help.
“Now how are we going to get back to the Orange Cliffs?” asked the strong ogre who had tied up Omby Amby.
Instead of answering, Citros mounted Ozma’s green throne, and sat down among its soft cushions. He then announced, “I like this place. I like it a lot better than those old cliffs. I think we ought to stay.”
“But I wish to go home,” replied a strong ogre, one of the Council members, and three others agreed. Although they could not quite articulate it, they did not like the idea of Citros on the throne. For his part, he felt empowered by the sudden turn of events, but knew he must be wise for the time being.
“Perhaps one of our new slaves will know of a way to get back. But I don’t see why you’d want to return to the cliffs. Here, we have more treasure and slaves than we ever imagined.”
So the conquerors remained in the City for the day, during which time they forced the Ozites to work for them. Dorothy and Betsy Bobbin were to sweep and clean after them, while Jellia Jamb and Ozma were to serve food and drink to the ogres whenever they wanted it, which was quite often. Trot had polish the creatures’ weapons, Pastoria had to outfit them with new clothes, while Snip’s job was to iron them. The Wizard was made a footman, while Jack Pumpkinhead, when not attending Citros, was charged with combing the orange hair of those of the Council members who had hair, which was not an easy job for him, as he had little himself.
As to the “grotesques” of the Palace, as the ogres called , the ogres kept them locked them together in a large but little used gallery along with the many talking animals.
“We have to get these ogres out of the Palace!” said Jack to Jellia and the Wizard. “Every time I get a hairstyle wrong, an ogre knocks my head off. I’m not sure if I can take much more of this!”
“They watch Ozma and I like hawks,” she replied. “I’m surprised Glinda hasn’t arrived yet.”
“She went to Ix,” stated the Chief Magician. “There are others who can help us, but if I could get to my black bag first, or the safe, I’d be able to get rid of them myself. The only problem is they seem to know I’m up to something and won’t let me out of their sight for a moment. I can neither enter my chambers, the Tower Room or the Throne Room.”
By that evening, however, some of the ogres began to complain again. They continued to encounter odd beings who lived in the palace or Emerald City, and although they locked them away, their very presence frightened them, and they could not grow accustomed to the lavish and foreign dwellings, which seemed mysterious and haunted in their eyes. So as they began to individually and collectively complain, Citros grew angry:
“The Emerald City is now mine to rule as I see fit. If you are yet afraid of children’s stories, you are free to return to your cliffs and orange trees, but the slaves and treasure will remain with me, and any of you who stay will remain so as my subjects.” The elders then approached him, and he consented to allowing them one slave to serve as a guide back to their ships. In truth, he was anxious to rid himself of malcontents and potential rivals. Had he known that so many were planning to depart, he would have reconsidered, but for the moment he saw no reason not to be magnanimous. So the ogres, only too glad to get away from the strange green city with its terrifying living puppets, giant insects and vegetable-headed creatures, came before the Wizard, who they recognized as a shaman of his people, inquiring how they could return to their ships without encountering giants or any other dangerous foes.
“I know of an easy way for you to get back to your homes that will avoid all giants and dragons,” replied the magician.
“How?” asked Peele, the ogre who questioned him.
“By magic. Take me to the Throne Room and I’ll be glad to send your people home safe and sound. But we’d best go there when Citros isn’t around.”
“Citros believes because he sits on the throne that he is king. He will not easily depart from it!”
“Well, then, unless you want to remain his subject, he must be lured out.”
“We have a Council of Ten,” the ogre replied. “There was a time we would have welcomed Citros as king, but no longer.”
“I understand. Tell him that something of great importance is going on in another room, a party for him, perhaps. Then, when he arrives there, have the Council pledge a formal treaty of peace with his new kingdom and yours. I don’t need very long.”
“It shall be done! Allow us two hours.”
Night had come on, and with it the electric and magical lights of the palace and Emerald City, which served to make the ogres even more anxious. After notifying the Wizard that he was about to put the plan into effect, Polp, Seads and Peele came before Citros and told him that the Council had gathered to declare him king and sign a treaty with his kingdom and theirs.
“Why then have they not come here in the Throne Room to do so?”
“These Ozites are traditionalists and believe that a… surprise celebration must be given you, else you would be robbed of the honor that you are due.”
“They are a strange tribe these Oz people, not at all like their human counterparts from home.”
Citros was grateful to be acknowledged as king and to be rid of the Council. It did occur to him as odd that so few days ago he had no desire to rule. What had changed him so? He realized then that it was the pictures of the Emerald City that had first seeded this desire. He had never imagined such wealth and beauty and grandeur. Even now that he sat on the throne he longed to immerse himself so deep in its depths that he would never again emerge.
So it was that he followed his fellow council members to this room, allowing the Wizard of Oz to reach the wall safe. The magician quickly opened it, took out the Magic Belt, wrapped this instrument around his waist, and magically turned all of the Orange Ogres into oranges.
The Wizard notified the other Ozites that they had regained possession of the castle, freed those imprisoned, and told everyone that a meeting was to be held. Ozma and a large number of courtiers gathered in the Council Hall, and tried to decide what was to be done with the ogres.
“Why don’t we just let them remain oranges?” suggested Scraps.
“No, that would be cruel,” disagreed Ozma. “We would be ogres ourselves to do such a thing. I think we should return them to their rightful forms, unless it is absolutely necessary to keep them transformed.”
“Well, then what do we know about these ogres?” asked Betsy.
To determine this, Ozma invited the heads of all the peoples who been enslaved by the ogres to the conference. They were themselves in awe of their surroundings and the unique and unusual creatures who populated this domain, and so cautiously at first began to explain to them how the ogres had attacked and raided their villages, took the strong men and women who survived as slaves for their orange groves, and left the old and weak behind without wealth or possessions.
“Even though your country is not within my dominions, I cannot allow the ogres to continue doing this,” stated Ozma, “which I fear they will if I were to return them as they are.”
“And you can’t inflict them on any other lands,” Trot interjected.
“Well, is there anything useful that the ogres could do?” inquired Em.
“They don’t seem to be good at anything but pillaging,” said one of the former slaves.
“Didn’t you say something about the ogres having orange groves?” questioned Dorothy.
“Yes, most of us have had to work in them,” replied one man. “They yield some of the finest oranges I’ve ever tasted.”
“Well, then, why can’t the ogres trade or sell their oranges to nearby towns?” asked Carter Green the Vegetable Man. “That way, they’ll still get to travel, but won’t be hurting anybody.”
“Your highness,” said one man who came forward. “These are ogres. They are not like you and your gentle people. They are a warlike race, given to violence and oppression. They would never agree to such terms, even if they feigned to do so to be free of their enchantment.”
“I understand your concern," replied Ozma, "but have no fear. We have dealt with suchlike ones before. From now on, they will be friends to your peoples.”
“How can this be?”
“I know it can be hard to believe, but we will not allow any further harm to come to you from the ogres. If you trust me, I will send you all back to your original homes with all that has been stolen from you and more. You will prosper. Tell your people that when you see the ogres again, they will be as traders and friends. I know you have grievances and resentments, but it would be best if the past was forgotten and not mentioned again.”
The men and women spoke amongst themselves briefly before one said, “That sounds too good to be true, but we do trust you. It shall be done.”
With that, Ozma touched the Magic Belt and said some words in a low tone, and all the former slaves vanished from her realm. They found themselves back in their original homes, and all the treasure that had been taken from them restored.
Queen Ozma spoke quietly to the Wizard, Dorothy and Jellia, and after a short while used the Magic Belt to restore Citros to his proper form along with the nine other council heads, and explained the new arrangement. The Ogre King fiercely refused, demanding his right to the throne by virtue of conquest.
“We don’t follow such traditions,” said the Wizard, “but tell me. Your people have told me that you were not as you are now. You were once asked to become Ogre King, and yet you refused, insisting upon a council of ten. That was rather noble-minded on your part.”
“It is true that I did not wish to rule,” he replied soberly. “I had seen what kings do to their peoples, and did not seek to follow their example. And then I saw your city. Never had I dreamed of such a place. And now that I have seen it with my own eyes, I know I can never be apart from it. It is something that can never leave my soul. You will have to kill me, shaman, if you wish to stop me from returning again and again to conquer this most beautiful of cities”
“That is not something we do,” the Wizard said with a somber smile, for he knew that in the outside world things were very different.
Ozma smiled warmly, however, and said to him, “But there is something we can do to heal you of this ailment.” After leading him out to a clearing in the gardens outside, Ozma asked Jellia to bring him a glass of water.
Jellia did as told, and the ogre looked at the glass dubiously. The other ogres also looked amiss and murmured amongst themselves.
“It is not poison,” Ozma reassured them. “I promise.”
“I care not. If I cannot have this city, then I desire naught else.”
And with those words, he drank it down.
Suddenly, a strange look came upon him. "I feel different somehow. What is this you have given me?”
“It is called the Water of Truth. It comes from a pond here in Oz.”
“What is its purpose?”
“To help you better see the truth.”
“I have always been truthful,” the ogre replied hotly.
“Perhaps not so much with yourself,” said the Wizard. “Water from the Truth Pond will enable you to no longer hide the truth from yourself. You blame your human neighbors for having oppressed your people when deep down you know they are innocent of this blame. Then you do to them what you perceive they had done to your people.”
The ogre thought for a moment. “I cannot deny this, and yet my people were oppressed.”
“Ages ago, yes, and have you ever wondered why?”
“Our stories tell us, but they cannot be true. They were designed by the elders to keep themselves in power and us in fear.” The other ogres echoed agreement with this.
At that, the Wizard went into his black bag and brought out what he called a Magic Lantern. “I discovered this not very long ago. It has the rather uncanny ability to show the past. What you are all about to see is ancient and comes from the time before these lands were sundered from the outside world. I think you may find some answers here.”
The Wizard hung the lantern from a ceiling hook used for a hanging plant and uttered a long phrase in an unknown language. After a moment, a light began to glow within the lantern and then pulsate on and off, and suddenly the lantern started to turn. The light now beamed upon one spot on the wall, and within it images began to appear, still images at first, but then they became as the moving pictures known to those in the outside world. The tale that unfolded was that of an ancient world within which a cruel, violent and rapacious race of beings did all manner of terrible things to those they came across. When they weren't indulging in their own craven lusts for violence and power, they served a shadowy dark lord who guided them into destructive wars against numerous foes. Finally, when their dark lord was vanquished, they fled from before those they'd formerly sought to destroy, and were hunted down and killed. Some that survived went on to battle the Great Ak, while others delved deep into the forests, hills and mountain caves, where they hoped to be forgotten. The narrative followed one of the latter groups as it made its way over the millennia to the mountain caves where they made their home.
“So the stories are true. We served monsters and became like them. Then I myself am guilty of this very thing when I took over the Emerald City, when I raided the neighboring villages and abducted others as slaves...”
“It was not always so. You and your people were once the proud offshoot of an even more ancient race. Over time and away from the influence of evil you have become more like them. That is why you're so enamored of the Emerald City. You crave not it itself, but its beauty. This is how your most ancient ancestors lived before they were turned to evil.”
“We can help make your own home a place of beauty and pride,” added Ozma.
“Why would you do this?" Citros asked. "Why would you help those who have stolen from you, who may have harmed you, who sought to make you slaves?"
Scraps then spun around an burst into verse:
“Silly ogres, don't you know?
Love is the only way to go,
Try it out awhile and see,
Forgiveness comes quite easily.”
Ozma smiled. “This is true. You are no longer the evil creatures from the ancient past, neither orcs nor ogres anymore, but something new. You, Citros, and the benevolent council are now the Orange Ochres, so called because you cultivate the most delicious orange grove trees in Nonestica. If you wish it, you can have a successful trade and abiding friendship with the villages around you, and because you are big and strong, you can protect them against anyone who would show them hostility.”
Polp then spoke up, “Your words are as beautiful as your city, but the villagers are not as you are.”
“They will not forgive so lightly,” added Seads.
“They already have,” Ozma reassured them. “It will take time for the seeds of true friendship to grow, but if you are patient I know you will see it blossom.”
“Patience may be another fruit we must learn to cultivate,” added Peele.
Humbled, but encouraged to embark upon this new phase of their lives, the former ogres agreed as one upon this course, and pledged to forever be friends of the Emerald City. They would send or receive emissaries once every spring and upon their next visit would bring orange tree saplings that Ozma would plant in the Emerald City, along the borders of the Winkie and Quadling Country, and in the gardens of Zim the Flying Sorcerer. With the help of the Wizard, the ochres looked in the Magic Picture and watched as an astonishing orange palace spring up before them in the valley adjacent to the orange groves. It was as yet unfurnished, as the ocres would want to do that themselves, but designed in the aesthetic of their people and in style of their valley. Once this was completed, the Ozites were only to happy to celebrate with them a variety of foods and desserts from the Royal Kitchens prepared by Stovely the Chief Cook and his assistants.
Joining them, as friends now, were Dorothy, Toto, Billina, Omby Amby, Percy, Fanny, Trot, Robin, Betsy, Cap’n Bill, Eureka, Scraps, Bungle, Jack Pumpkinhead, Cowy, the Hungry Tiger, Spots, Carter Green and numerous others. The Orange Ochres marveled in wonder at the friendship and diversity that existed amongst these varied people, and at last with many hearty goodbyes they were returned, contented, to their homes in the Orange Cliffs. Ozma then disenchanted the rest of the tribe and sent them back as well. There, they set out to make their home as beautiful as their memories of Oz had been. From then on, they tended their own orange groves, and every other week, they traveled to a nearby village, but instead of raiding it as they once had, they traded their oranges and orange juice to its inhabitants in exchange for services and goods. The people were a little shy and reserved at first, but upon seeing that Ozma’s words had come true as promised, they began to make friends with the ochres in earnest. For many years to come, the Orange Ochres protected the numerous villages from those who would otherwise harm them, and together they all prospered. Thus, the country to the south of Oz became a much more pleasant place to live.
Story: When Citros leaves the Orange Cliffs, the cave home of his people, east of the Scoodlers, he makes a new dwelling for himself outside the cliffs by the Orange River, where he and those that join him learn to love the orange trees and lands they cultivate. Resentful at the old stories of his peoples' oppression at the hands of humans, he discovers that humans are weaker than they, and he begins leading nightly raiding parties to neighboring villages, where they bring home slaves to work their groves.
With several other ogres, Citrols forms a ruling council. Deciding to expand their raids one day, they force their slaves to fashion boats for them, which they then take down the Orange River, but it goes underground and emerges in the Quadling Country. After raiding a small village, the ogres are ready to return home, but Citros sees a picture of the Emerald City, and deeming it the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, determines to make it his own.
After escaping the friendly giants of Big Top Mountain, the ogres arrive at the Emerald City. Though their conquest is not taken seriously at first, Citros and his ogres soon overrun the place, and he declares himself king. The ogres, however, are uncomfortable with the surroundings and many strange beings, and are perturbed by Citros' desire to rule as Ogre King. He allows them to take a guide and go home, so approaching the Wizard, who they feel might protect them from giants, they make their petition. He agrees to help send them home, but requires his magic, for which Citros must be lured from the Throne Room. They agree to this, and the Wizard soon regains the Belt and turns the ogres into oranges.
Ozma summons the slaves to learn of their plight. Coming up with an idea, she sends them back, telling them that when next they see the ogres they will be as friends. Disenchanting Citros and the nine council members, they tell them that they will now trade their oranges and live at peace with the villagers. Citros, however, is too enamored with the Emerald City and says he will not stop trying to conquer it. So, Ozma gives him water from the Truth Pond, which enables him to not only speak but see the truth in himself. The Wizard asks him why he took slaves in the first place, and he claims it's in retribution for what was done to their people, though he admits that it was unjust. Still, he is embittered at their ignoble past, so the Wizard takes out a Magic Lantern, and shows him a moving picture which portrays the real history of his people as ravagers and servants of a dark lord. Recognizing that the old stories were true, Citros is humbled, and Ozma says they will help make the valley of the Orange Cliffs beautiful. The ogres are surprised and moved by this gesture, and promise to then on protect the neighboring villages, instead of preying on them.
Dating: Due to the presence of the non-carnivorous giants of Big Top Mountain, and Maggie as Good Witch of the North, a situation that came about in 1982, in The Seven Blue Mountains of Oz: Book 2, this story must take place after that time. The Royal Timeline of Oz places it in 1986.
Magic Lantern: This magical device (inspired by Oz author Jeff Rester) makes its first appearance here. When directed, it is able to show the significant events of the past in the form of a moving picture.
Nuanced Villains: Following on Baum's nuanced portrayal of villainous beings, such as the Nomes, Yookoohoos, dragons, the author again presents a portrayal of ogres that are not all bad or good. A similar scenario was put forth with the goblins of the story "Betsy Bobbin of Yartralia: An Oz Tale," and with the troll Tekrouri in Bucketheads in Oz.
Ogres: Etymologically, ogres and orcs share the same root, and may be one in the same, or more accurately a later branch from the original tree. As orcs were first mentioned in The Mysterious Chronicles of Oz, which places them in a Tolkienian context, as if the legendarium of Middle-Earth were part of the distant past of Baum's Oz universe, this story builds on that idea. The Wizard indicates that they're moving back to their original heritage, which in ancient times was that of Elves, and likely means this in terms of their personalities (rather than their physicality). Ozma determines that they're no longer orcs or ogres, but rechristens them Orange Ochres after the Orange Cliffs and groves that they live in and tend to.