Oscar Diggs was the first Wizard of Oz, a title he preferred to “Emperor” because it suggested the idea of a magical birthright—and because spellcraft and sorcery were far more respected in Eden than the brute force of imperial aggression. Despite this attempt at placating the public however, the allies who had supported his invasion of the country quickly realized that he was a scoundrel and a charlatan. And soon enough, they turned on him. That said, because of the power of his lieutenants—The Four Witches—plans for his removal never progressed past the idea stage.
It was only with the rise of the Wonderland unification movement in the early 260s that Diggs’ domination over Edenian politics began to falter. As he was threatened by the rise of a neighboring nation that would rival his own, Diggs made a series of political mistakes which culminated with the War of Western Aggression. This resulted in a confrontation between Diggs and Wonderland’s new queen, Frieda Jacobs—a confrontation which finally, mercifully brought the reign of the altogether ancient Diggs to an end.
Until, “somehow,” he returned—as evil emperors are apparently wont to do. But that’s a story for another time.
Oscar Diggs was born in the Nebraska Territory of the United States of America on September 4, 1865 (67 Edenian), during the Earth-666 iteration of reality. Little is known for certain about his boyhood. We do know, from studying a copy of the 1870 U.S. Census, that his supposedly abusive father left the family before Oscar was five years old. We know from the 1880 Census that Diggs and his mother lived for a time in an apartment building run by a spiritualist medium—a woman who’d been driven out of New York City by P.T. Barnum for being a “true humbug.” We can be fairly certain that it was from this woman that Diggs first learned the art of cons, hoaxes, and scams. But beyond that, all certainty about his childhood and adolescence disappears.
Adulthood on Earth
When he was 18, supposedly to “do his duty to God and country,” Diggs enlisted in the United States Army. According to Diggs, he served in the 7th Cavalry—a fact corroborated by records found in the Edenian Athenæum. We can also confirm that he was part of the detatchment, led by Major Samuel M. Whitside, which took part in the Massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. But we cannot confirm his account of the day’s events, as no other veterans of this conflict survived The Calamity which brought their iteration of reality to an end.
By Diggs account, though he did “regretably” take part in the initial assault on the Lakota, he pleaded with the men manning the four rapid-fire mountain guns to stop firing on the women and children in the nearby tipi camp.
According to Diggs, he deserted his post in the immediate aftermath of the battle and was later dishonorably discharged. Supposedly “filled with remorse,” he sought out a new career as an entertainer. He hoped, or so he would say later in life, that if he could put enough smiles on enough faces before the end of his life, he might redeem himself in the eyes of God.
He spent his twenties and thirties traveling the country as a circus performer, appearances which have been verified through posters and handbills which survived the apocalypse and made it into Eden. Reputed to be a “master” of illusions and an expert ventriloquist, it seems obvious that he was a major draw by the time his world came to an end.
Adulthood in Eden
In the year 114, Diggs arrived in Eden in a hot air balloon and immediately began searching for his first grift. He struggled to make ends meet, unable to swindle the new species of people he came across as easily as he’d been able to hoodwink his fellow human beings, and eventually took a low-paying job as a parlor room entertainer in a Quadling Cathouse.
During his time at the Cathouse, he developed a severe disdain for his halfling employers. And then, in the year 141, when a Munchkin spy murdered the qhirat who turned out to be the very last qhirat in existence, Diggs channeled his long-festering hatred into a call for an invasion of the halfling-dominated country of Oz.
For a year, supported by both the Accidental Unicorns and the White Mages, the charismatic Diggs stirred up anti-halfling fervor in Eden. He preached to anyone who would listen about what he called the “Halfling Menace.” He told tales of an earlier age when the murderous Munchkins, greedy Gillikins, wicked Winkies, and craven Quadlings were confined to a single corner of Eden. And, he said, if it weren’t for the expansionist tendencies of the dastardly United Countries of Oz, things might be the way they had always been—the way they were always meant to be.
Using stolen dwarven technology, he brought four witches under his sway and added them to his team as lieutenants. Then he began to look for the straw that would break the camel’s back—the one thing which would unite all of Eden against his halfling enemies.
It came when the fae-halfling mixers known as Leprechauns re-emerged in late 141. Diggs manipulated this long lost tribe with his four witches and exaggerated their tales of abandonment into horror stories of “ethnic cleansing.” Finally, with public sentiment now in firmly in his favor, Diggs was given command of the Grand Army of Eden.
He marched his troops down the Yellow Brick Road, stormed the Emerald City, and set up a provisional government just as he’d promised The Council of Five that he would. But soon enough, with the help of his witches’ strongarm tactics, he had that government name him Wizard for life and dissolve itself for good measure.
And though he did meet resistance here and there along the way, it was until he was nearly two-hundred years old—and a hundred and twenty-one years into his reign—that he finally met someone who could best him. And even then he had a contingency plan, as evil emperors do, and he wasn’t gone for long.
But to say more would be to spoil The Blood of Seven Queens and its sequels for you, so we’ll stop there.