Originally written in May of 2010…
Oz had been facing some dark days for quite some time. It had been 12 years since little Dorothy Gale dropped into Munchkinland. 12 years since she took that fateful trip down the Yellow Brick Road, meeting friends and enemies alike. It had been 12 years since the Lion first began to face his fears in order to help a stranded little girl.
Even now, 12 years after receiving courage from the Wizard, the Lion was still occasionally referred to as “Cowardly.” He couldn’t understand it. Of course, he knew that the Wizard had been a fraud all along. He knew that what he had given to the Lion was no more useful as courage than the brain he had given the Scarecrow or the heart he had given the Tin Woodsman. But the Lion had since proven himself again and again. He was far from cowardly.
And though the Lion was a modest creature, he thought it would have been nice for the nickname “Courageous” to catch on. But it’s not as if he could start something like that himself. Nicknames are given by the people around you, not by yourself.
But it’s not as if he surrounded himself with many people these days. It was difficult to know who to trust. It’s not that he was afraid to trust anyone. But he was smart enough to heed the words of the Scarecrow, who was much wiser than he. “You must be careful who you trust, Lion,” the Scarecrow had said. “You’re out there in the jungle, among all manner of creatures. They can’t all be trusted to fight for what’s right in Oz.”
And so the Lion kept to himself. He heard whispers over the years. He knew that Ozma was no longer on the throne. He knew that the Nome King had finally usurped her rule and was now acting as a tyrant in the Emerald City. He knew that the good people of Oz had been living in fear for several years. They feared what would happen if they tried to revolt. The good people of Oz feared what would happen if they tried to find Ozma and restore her to her rightful throne.
The Lion knew that he and his friends would not be enough to remove the Nome King and his dark army. Sure, they had plenty of good people on their side: the Scarecrow and Tin Man, of course, the Hungry Tiger, Tik-Tok, the mechanical man, and Jack Pumpkinhead. Most importantly, this small band of rebels were being secretly led by Ozma herself. But he knew the key to their eventual success was Dorothy Gale.
Dorothy had not been seen in Oz in nearly a decade. He knew that the little girl must have grown up and forgotten about her friends in this magical land. But she was needed. The Lion had to find that girl and remind her about just how real the Land of Oz really is. It was a mission that would take a great deal of courage, something that this Courageous Lion certainly did not lack.
He stared into the darkness of the jungle… his jungle… and he set his feet on the path that lay before him. He was walking the path that would eventually lead him to Kansas. There was so much riding on finding Dorothy. He knew that if he failed, all would be lost.