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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 7 - A Dark Gathering)

Updated: Mar 11

Earlier that day, beyond the light of the welcoming sun, another meeting had taken place. Within the interior shadows of the Cirque du Soleil show building, now undergoing changes, dark and sinister forces were also planning for big and dramatic changes of their own.

The five Thorn captains stood, surrounding a projected image of Tanion which hovered before them in a smokey mass of green. Tanion was Dark Thorn leader of Disney Springs and all remaining Walt Disney World properties, including the resorts, Boardwalk, water parks and miniature golf courses. Because of this, it was decided by the Dark Thorns that Tanion would lead the task at hand—to find out where the Patrons planned to move the Magic Dream Expander.

“Any sign of them in the animal sector?”

“No, Dark Tanion,” replied Wontdo, captain of the Animal Kingdom.

“Captain Fibs, what about you? Any sign of Patron activity in Epcot?”

“No. Uh, no sire. No reported sightings from my crew,” said Fibs.

“What do you have to tell me, Captain Shivers,” said Tanion, his voice growing more impatient.

“Eh, nothing much, really. We uh…well, me and my spies haven’t had no luck at-tall in Hollywood Studios,” replied Shivers.

Tanion lowered his cloaked head, grasping tightly with his long, pale-blue, boney hands onto the large, black chair arms in which he was sitting.

The Thorn captains sensed Tanion’s tension.

“Captain Rued, tell me something promising,” said Tanion in a dark, gravely tone, “as it appears the others are INCAPABLE of carrying out such a simple task as the one requested by our Shadow Queen.”

Captain Rued was an extremely jumpy, hot headed fellow. His fingers constantly twitched, and many times, interacted with his large, protruding ears. He was a short, husky man—clothed in a well-worn, untucked cabana shirt and tattered, blue shorts. His build reflected his nervous snacking habits, which consisted mostly of baked goods—such as cake, brownies, pie and cookies. When dealing with the spies and Thorns he commanded, Captain Rued was full of fiery temper, fueled by his craving for sweets. But when confronted by his heartless leader, Dark Tanion, he always broke out into a sugary sweat—as was the case at this very moment.

Rued looked to his left, avoiding eye contact with his superior. “N…no dark leader. Unfortunately, no sitings have been reported in our segment.”

Petrified, the captain stood quietly, waiting for judgement from his soulless superior. Beads of sweat poured over Rued’s rose-red cheeks and into his curly, grey beard, which matched his bushy eyebrows and hair.

The cloudy mass of green smoke in which the Dark Thorn hovered changed from green to deep, red-orange.

Tanion let out a large exhale, then looked upwards with his endless black eyes. “Mr. Plank, the other four captains have been nothing more than bearers of bad news. If you intend to do the same, might I suggest you and the other captains run away and never return.”

Captain Plank turned his head and looked down the row at the other four captains with his one good eye, unsure how to express himself. He turned back towards Tanion, clearing his throat and raising his chin—confident that what he had to say would pardon them from the Dark Thorn’s fury.

“Well Captain,” said Tanion, do you have something to tell me?”

“Yes,” said Captain Plank.

“Yes? Yes what?” Tanion, leaned forward in his chair—his curiosity peaked.

“Yes, I do, sir,” replied Plank, eager to spill the information he so proudly had stored in his limited bank of knowledge.

“Go on then, tell ‘em mate,” said Captain Shivers.

“Yeah, Plank, tell him before we wind up somewhere we don’t want to be,” said Fibs.

Captain Plank turned to his fellow captains, then back to Tanion. “The Pimms lady,” you know, the one that hangs around that cranky old Alfred Jinx fella.”

“What about her?” asked Tanion.

“Turns out they were in the Magic Kingdom this morning. They was having a look at the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover, just as me and two of me spies, Jolly and Smith, happened to be walk’n by.”

“And,” said Tanion.

“So when we passed ‘em, Smith took one of them micro bugs and dropped it onto the funny hat the Pimms lady is always wearing. It dug itself deep down, right into the fabric of her hat. No way she’ll ever find it.”

Dark Tanion’s face transformed from a menacing frown into an evil grin. “Well done, Captain Plank. Well done.”

The Dark Thorn stood from his chair.

Plank and the others perked up and stood at attention, relieved by Tanion’s words.

“Return back to your segments and wait for further orders.”

The captains nodded simultaneously.

“In the meantime, continue to look for additional Patron activity.”

The five captains acknowledged Dark Tanion’s words, then disbanded.


Hidden in plain site, across Lake Buena Vista from WONDER’s Boathouse restaurant, lay Dark Tanion’s shadow realm. From a typical guest’s point of view, the lake was beautiful to look at. Smooth-as-glass water, reflections of blue sky decorated with white-cotton clouds, and a golden sun sharing hues of purple, red and orange along the distant horizon. It was picture perfect, as were all views in Walt Disney World’s secret creation known as WONDER.

But evil had found a way in, a way to hide in shadow between, and beyond, the dreams and ideas of Disney’s Imagineers and animators. Dark Thorns Elontra, Kunn and Senkrad had all gathered in such a place. Tanion’s Terrace is what he called it. It was a series of flat, jagged rock formations which floated above the northern bank of Lake Buena Vista—masked by dark magic, it could only be seen by those willing to except the evil, twisted ways of the Shadow Queen and her Dark Thorns.

Nearby, simulated guests enjoyed wonderful food and spectacular shopping experiences, as an unattended grey cat secretly made its way through the populated area of WONDER’s Disney Springs—closing in on the Vintage Amphicar Tours, just left of the Boathouse entrance, where classic cars turn into boats.

The cat quietly snuck by several cast members tending to the Amphicar Tours and walked up next to the car closest to the water—transforming into an Amphicar captain. Without hesitation, the captain removed the restraining blocks and climbed into the driver’s seat of the red car.

Calmly, he let the car slowly roll backwards into the water, waiving at the cast members, he called out, “Just taking it out for testing.”

Two cast members ran down the ramp to the water’s edge, waiving their arms and shouting for the captain to return.

Pretending not to hear them, the captain turned the car around to face forward, then continued on towards the north bank of Lake Buena Vista.

Half way across the lake, a low-lying fog mysteriously appeared, floating above the water. The sky turned ash grey, the air grew damp and chilly, and the sun gave way to a full moon, which shown brightly above—its eerie reflection dancing across the wake of the Amphicar, as it continued on.

The captain smiled, as he spotted Tanion’s Terrace and its occupants through the thick fog. Approaching the water’s edge, he slowed down, then accelerated, as the Amphicar climbed out of the water and up onto shore, leaving all traces of water behind.

Circling around behind the floating terrace, the captain parked his car and stepped out of the vehicle. Behind him sat a ghostly estate, an enormous castle built of skeletal formations, with soft hues of yellow glowing through the etched glass windows. Its rising towers and giant arches clearly stated that this was NOT a friendly place to visit. There were no walls to keep trespassers from entering. Instead, the haunted estate was hidden in shadow by way of dark magic, with giant, green-eyed ravens circling the property to assure unwanted visitors could never approach Tanion’s Terrace without warning.

The captain turned and walked towards the floating rock terrace. Magically, he crossed over the gap between land and the terrace, as if walking on air.

Tanion and the other three Dark Thorns greeted him.

“Have a seat won’t you, captain,” said Dark Tanion.

Sitting down at the jagged-stone table, the welcomed guest nodded to the others. Centered within the table was a small fire pit from which an eerie green flame burned three feet high. “Looks like everything is in order,” said the captain.

“Everything except your appearance,” smirked Elontra.

“Yes, please get rid of that ridiculous appearance,” frowned Kunn.

“Oh, right,” replied the captain with a smirk. He waved his right hand upwards, instantly revealing his true identity, Oltar, Dark Thorn leader of Hollywood Studios. “Better?”

“Quite,” replied Senkrad.

“Do we know their location?” said Oltar.

“No,” replied Tanion, “it is cloaked by Patron magic. But, we can hear every word they speak, thanks to the micro bug one of Captain Plank’s flunkies planted on the Pimms lady.”

“Perfect, so what are they talking about?” asked Kunn.

“Discussing where to move the Magic Dream Expander,” said Tanion, who was listening intently to the Patron’s conversation received through the magic green flame.

“Shhh, quiet,” said Elontra, holding up a long bony finger to silence the others, “listen.”

The five Dark Thorns sat quietly, exchanging evil grins with one another, as they listened in on the Patron’s secret meeting regarding the Magic Dream Expander and where to move it.

When the discussion ended, the magic flame shrunk, changing from green to orange.

“Well, that was interesting,” said Senkrad.

“Frightfully enlightening,” said Kunn with a dark, sinister chuckle.

“So Frank Wellington has moved the machine,” said Tanion.

“Yes,” said Oltar, “but its location is still unknown.”

“Our next step will be to find this so called, Library of Dreams,” said Elontra.

“I agree,” said Tanion, “find the library and we find the map.”

“Which will reveal the Magic Dream Expander’s hidden location,” added Senkrad.

“But,” said Oltar, “there is one potential problem. Alfred did mention the map will be hidden within the library.”

“I think I see a dream interaction in old Alfred’s future,” said Dark Tanion, with evil intent painted across his face.

“Precisely,” said Elontra.

“We must inform the Queen at once of our intentions,” said Senkrad.

“Indeed,” said Kunn.

The five Dark Thorns exchanged glances of wicked delight.

“This is going to be most enjoyable,” added Oltar, while tilting his head back to stretch his long, skinny arms outwards towards the haunted sky.

Tanion, Elontra, Oltar, Senkrad and Kunn shared a moment of diabolical laughter, as the full moon light cut through the water’s foggy bank, highlighting the rigid stone table and its five, black-robed figures with pale blue skin and dark, soulless eyes.

Just beyond Tanion’s Terrace, on the other side of the Shadow Plane, WONDER’s picture perfect setting of Lake Buena Vista remained. Blue skies decorated with white-cotton clouds, reflected upon the smooth, glass-like waters as the setting sun shared hues of purple, red and orange along the distant horizon.

© 2024 Charles E. Zitta. Charles E. Zitta and Disney and the Wonder Within blog novels are in no way part of,  endorsed or authorized by, or affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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