The Goat Girls of Oz

By Nathan M. DeHoff

 

Founded on and Continuing the Famous Oz Stories by L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson

Draft completed 15 May 2015

This story was formerly published online as: "Handy Mandy and the Jewels of Munchkenny" and "Prince Trelnor of Tralmia and the Olympians"

 

CHAPTER I

LEAVING KERETARIA

 

“How much longer until the Cook comes back?” asked Mandy, as she opened the stove door with one hand, placed a kettle of hot water on a burner with another hand, turned on the sink with yet another hand, held a pot with a fifth hand, and fixed her hair with her two remaining hands.

“Well,” answered a page-boy, “he said he'd be back by the twenty-seventh, and today is the twentieth, so I s'pose it'll be another week.”

“A week? Oh, good goats and gravy! Which reminds me, I need to start the gravy.”

Now, Mandy was a seven-armed goat girl from Mount Mern, who had once ridden to Keretaria on a stone. And Keretaria, as you may know, is a small Kingdom in the blue Munchkin Country of Oz, not far north of Lake Orizon. When Mandy had arrived in Keretaria, King Kerry was a captive of the evil Wizard of Wutz; but the goat girl, with the aid of Nox, the Royal Ox of the Kingdom, rescued the young Ruler. From that point on, the girl had lived in the Castle of Keretaria, where she was called "Handy Mandy," and was very popular with almost everyone. About two weeks before the beginning of this story, Kerry's Royal Cook had left the domain to visit a cousin in nearby Regalia, and Mandy, being the only other castle-dweller who could cook, took over the kitchen.

The interim cook had soon prepared a dinner of roast beef and gravy from the best beef bushes in Kereteria, mashed potatoes, string-beans, applesauce, and hot herbal tea, and ten pages brought the food to the King's table. While dinner was in progress, Mandy hurried over to the Royal Stable, where Nox was eating his own supper.

“Nox, this cooking is killing me!” complained Handy Mandy to the Royal Ox.

“It can't be killing you,” replied Nox. “Surely you know that nobody in Oz can die.”

“You know what I mean, and don't call me Shirley. I think I need a vacation.”

“But what will the palace people eat? You know very well you're the only person around here who can cook.”

“Oh, let them eat cake!” laughed Mandy. “But seriously, it's not hard to find a meal in Oz. There are plenty of sandwich trees around here, and I'm sure that someone in the castle will be able to heat them up.”

“Where were you thinking of going?”

“Maybe to the Sapphire City to visit King Cheeriobed and Queen Orin. They told us we could drop in anytime, remember?”

“We? So you're planning on MY coming along?”

“Do you think that I'd go without you, Old Toggins?”

“Well, all right. I could use a vacation myself.”

So, as soon as Nox had finished eating, Mandy mounted the ox, and the two of them set out toward the south. Before long, they came to the great Munchkin River. On the other side of this river towered the Munchkin Mountains. And beyond these mountains, as both of the travelers knew quite well, were the salty blue Lake of Orizon and the beautiful Sapphire City, the capital of Munchkinland.

“How are we going to cross this river?” inquired the Royal Ox.

“There should be a bridge somewhere around here,” was the goat girl's reply.

The girl and the ox searched the area for a bridge, but found no sign of one. Finally, Mandy exclaimed, “Now I remember! The bridge is invisible!”

“Invisible? By my hide and horns, why do they always have to make these things so difficult?”

“Well, I should think you'd be used to it. You've lived in Oz longer than I have, dear-ear.”

“No matter how long you live in Oz, you can never really get used to it.”

Handy Mandy was already looking for the bridge by feeling around with her foot, and she soon found it. The girl from Mount Mern hurried along the invisible structure, followed more slowly by the Royal Ox. The two crossed the bridge in safety, but Nox grumbled, “Those invisible bridges are dangerous! No one will know when they need repairs until it's too late.”

“We got across, didn't we?” pointed out the ox's more optimistic companion. “My-y, look at this cave.”

“Cave? Don't tell me you want to explore some cave! You know I don't like underground places.”

But the impulsive Mernite had already entered the dark cave, the mouth of which stood in the side of one of the Munchkin Mountains. The Royal Ox followed her, grumbling the whole way. However, Nox's grumbling suddenly stopped, and Mandy turned around to see what had happened to her friend. Although the cave was dark, there could be no doubt of the fact that Nox had disappeared.

“Nox! Nox!" called the goat girl. "Where are you, Old Toggins? Where in Oz did you get to?”

There was no reply, and Mandy decided that her companion must have been enchanted. This was entirely possible in the Land of Oz, where many wicked witches and black-hearted sorcerers dwell, and the mountains were often the favorite haunts of these magicians.

“My-y, it looks like I'll have to go to the Emerald City,” said the girl out loud.

“No, there is no need for that," stated a strange voice. "Only the Three Jewels of Munchkenny can break the enchantment on the Royal Ox.”

 

CHAPTER II

REVELATIONS BY TORCHLIGHT

 

“Who said that?” asked Mandy.

“I did.” Suddenly, a large torch lit up, and many smaller ones followed suit, allowing the girl to see the place quite plainly. The cavern contained several chairs, a blue marble table, and a bookshelf. On the shelf were a few old books bound in blue leather, and a small marble ox with golden horns.

“Where am I?” inquired the goat girl.

“You are in the cave formerly inhabited by Wunchie the Witch. I am Wunchie's Master Torch.”

The voice did seem to be coming from the largest torch, so Mandy asked this light source, “What happened to Nox?”

“He's on the shelf.”

“Do you mean that that statue is Nox?”

“Yes. Wunchie did not want any of the Royal Oxen of Keretaria to enter her cave, so she cast a spell on the entrance. I never knew exactly what the enchantment would do, but as soon as that statuette appeared on the shelf, I knew that it was the Royal Ox. A very interesting spell. Blue magic, I believe, and only the Three Jewels of Munchkenny can break it.”

“Yes, you said that before. What in Oz are the Three Jewels of Munchkenny?”

“Well, several centuries ago, the King of the Munchkins wore a crown containing these three jewels, which were given him by a wizard named Wam. But Wunchie stole the crown, and she hid the jewels in three distant locations.”

“Oh, dear-ear. If they're in three distant locations, however in ever am I going to find them?”

“Actually, it shouldn't be all that hard. Wunchie has a transportation device in the closet, and it can take you to the locations of the jewels.”

“And how will I recognize the jewels when I do find them?”

“Well,” said the Torch contemplatively, “all three of them are blue. Three different shades of blue, if I remember correctly. Also, they are all marked with the Oz symbol and a picture of the King's head.”

“The King's head?”

“Yes, old King Merej’s head.  It looks sort of like this.” The Master Torch projected the image of a King's head on the far wall. It resembled that of King Cheeriobed, which was not surprising, considering that this Ruler was an ancestor of Cheeriobed.

“All right, I'll probably recognize them. Now, where is that closet you mentioned?”

“Through the door.” And just as the Master said this, a door appeared on the southern side of the cavern. The Goat Girl rushed over to the portal, opened it, and saw an extremely untidy closet.

“Oh, my-y! Wunchie wasn't much of a housekeeper, was she?” observed Mandy.

“Well, no, she wasn't. There’s not much time to clean house when you’re busy subjugating kingdoms. Now, the transportation device that you need should be hanging on the door.”

A long blue cloak, a white dress, and a blue marble ring that resembled a hula hoop, hung from the door. When Mandy doubtfully removed the hoop from its place, the Torch exclaimed, “Yes! That's it!”

“This? And how does one work this thing?”

“Just spin it around on your hips and tell it where you want to go.”

So the girl placed the device around her waist, and attempted to spin it around. However, Mandy had never used a hula hoop before, and the ring fell to the cave floor. She tried again, and this time, she was more successful. As she waved her hips, the Goat Girl commanded, “Take me to the location of the first of the Three Jewels of Munchkenny!”

 

CHAPTER III

PRINCE TRELNOR OF TRALMIA

 

In the blue Munchkin Plains, just across a river from the Kingdom of Seebania, lies the little Kingdom of Ilgerniltia. Although not one of the most famous realms in the Land of Oz, Ilgerniltia has its merits, one of these being its beautiful princess. On one bright morning, a young prince, mounted on a roan horse, and accompanied by an old cleric in a red cloak and a small red dragon, arrived at the Ilgerniltian castle and asked King Ilgramm for the hand of the Princess Niltia in marriage.

“I cannot just give my only daughter to any silly Quadling who comes riding into my castle,” objected the King. “Any prince in Oz would be glad to marry her. What makes you so special? And where are you from, anyway?”

“I am Trelnor, son of Drelnor, Prince of Tralmia, the greatest site of learning and cogitation in the land" replied the Prince.

“Then how come I've never heard of it?” asked the Prime Minister, who stood near the throne.

“Maybe because your pathetic Ilgerniltia is a sad, sorry, ignorant, uninformed, backwater spot of a nation,” retorted the dragon.

            “Now, don’t quarrel, Phlaymer,” said the Prince. “From what we’ve seen of it, Ilgerniltia is a fine country.”

“I have devised a test, which all who hope to marry my daughter must pass,” stated the King of Ilgerniltia. “I must warn you that many princes have tried it, and all have failed. Will you accept this test?”

“Sure,” said Trelnor. “Why not? And by the way, what kind of test is this?”

“It has several parts. First, I shall give you the oral quiz. Well, actually, I won't. My High Qui-Questioner will.”

The King pulled a bell-cord, and an unpleasant-looking man, who held a staff shaped like a question mark, entered the Throne Room. The Ilgerniltian Ruler introduced this man as Questo, High Qui-Questioner of Ilgerniltia.

“In the name of the great mole god, allow the examination to begin!” commanded the King.

“Yes, Your Majesty,” said the Qui-Questioner. “Now, my fine young Prince, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

Prince Trelnor answered this question correctly, but I am not sure of his answer. Questo grumbled at this, and then asked, “If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?”

“In the pantry of Prince Pompadore of Pumperdink,” replied the Prince of Tralmia.

Questo asked many more questions, from “What's the sound of one hand clapping?” to “What color is the Dictator of Dicksy Land's white horse?” Trelnor, who was an intelligent young man and had had the greatest tutors in Tralmia, answered every one correctly.

“Very good, Prince,” said the King. “You have passed the oral examination. Questo, you may leave.”

“May you live forever, and may the mole god bless your kingdom and grant peace and prosperity,” stated Questo, as he bowed to the King. The High Qui-Questioner then left the room.

The Ruler cleared his throat, and announced, “Your next trial will be a test of fighting ability. You must defeat—“

King Ilgramm was interrupted by the ringing of a gong. He then told Prince Trelnor, “We shall hold the test of fighting ability after lunch. Follow me to the dining hall.”

The King, the Prime Minister, and the three visitors walked down a corridor, and into the elegant dining hall. The walls of this room were decorated with beautiful green and blue vines, as well as paintings of famous Ilgerniltians. A vase containing an exotic plant stood in each of the room's four corners. The King sat in a blue marble chair at the head of the table, and the Prime Minister—before taking his own seat—showed the Prince and the Cleric to two chairs. The dragon sat on Prince Trelnor's shoulder.

The meal consisted of fried chicken (or something that was quite similar to chicken, anyway, as it grew on a tree), steamed vegetables, apple cider, and blueberry pudding. The dragon helped himself to chicken from the Prince's plate, while casting glances at Questo and two other shifty-looking men who sat near the foot of the long table. The Cleric, who was a light eater, partook of small amounts of vegetables and cider. Prince Trelnor tried to eat, but it was difficult for him to stop looking at the lovely Princess Niltia, who sat next to her father. This Princess was the granddaughter of a Dryad, and she had beautiful dark brown hair and a radiant face with bright blue eyes. Trelnor had loved her since he first saw her picture, and, now that he was seeing her in person, his desire to marry this young lady increased greatly. Yet, as he looked upon her, he got the impression that she looked terribly sad. He at first feared that his appearance was the cause of that, but after a time he came to believe that she was worried and upset over something.

“Your highness,” said the Prince to the King, “Has there been some manner of trouble in your kingdom of late?”

The King hesitated and seemed to grow pale, and the Prime Minister spoke for him. “Not that it’s any of your concern, but his wife, the queen has apparently left for parts unknown.”

The Prince was eager to ask more, but discerned from their reactions that it was something that wasn’t discussed, and dropped the matter. When the courtiers and visitors had finished eating, King Ilgramm, the Prime Minister, Prince Trelnor, Kloimar the Cleric, Phlaymer the dragon, and a strong knight entered the Throne Room. Ilgramm then explained, “Your second test is to defeat Sir Ilst in battle. Sir Ilst is one of my finest Knights, and he seldom loses. Now, for your weapons.”

King Ilgramm pulled a bell-cord four times, and a page entered the room. The King ordered the page to fetch two swords, and it did not take long for the servant to fulfill this order. Soon, Trelnor and Ilst were armed and ready to fight.

“Begin!” shouted the King.

The battle was long and difficult, but Trelnor, using all of his skill in sword-play, eventually knocked Ilst to the floor. The Knight congratulated the Prince on his victory, and then departed from the Throne Room.

“You have performed quite well," said the King. "However, the third test is more difficult than the first two combined. It involves a long journey.”

“I'm quite willing to undertake a journey.”

“Well, why don't you begin tomorrow? Until then, you can remain here as guests.”

The Prince and his companions explored the castle and the nearby city. Among the people whom they encountered were Sir Ilst, who was not at all bitter about his defeat, and talked quite pleasantly with Trelnor. Questo and his two friends were involved in a whispered conversation near the castle stables. Trelnor and Niltia smiled at each other as they passed in the halls, but neither one spoke to the other.

Late in the afternoon, all of the Ilgerniltians entered a large temple located near the castle. The King commanded the visitors to join the natives at the temple. The priest in charge of the ceremony in honor of the Sacred Mole was one of Questo's two friends. The guests noticed that the King participated quite enthusiastically in the service, while others, such as Sir Ilst and the Princess, were quite half-hearted throughout the ceremony. The priest spoke of how the mole had arrived in the kingdom as the answer to an ancient prophecy about a rodent who would save the country from its afflictions and ills. After the service, dinner was served. Not long after that, the visitors were shown to a guest room by a page. That night, the three Tralmians had a conversation about Ilgerniltia.

“I think that Qui-Questioner and that priest are up to no good,” stated the little dragon.

“I agree, Phlaymer” said the Cleric. “I have studied religions throughout Oz and elsewhere, and this worship of the Sacred Mole is unknown to me. It was probably created by that priest, who looks like a foreigner to this kingdom.”

“But what could they be up to?”

“Maybe we should go to that temple and find out,” suggested Prince Trelnor. “But let's wait until everyone's asleep.”

Just after midnight, when the castle was quiet, the three Tralmians walked over to the temple. There were no windows on this stone building, and the door was sealed shut, so there was no way to look into the shrine. A quick spell from Kloimar determined that no one was inside, and Trelnor was able to break in with his sword. By candlelight, they found a worn book with a dark blue cover thrown carelessly aside near the pulpit. It was written in an old language, but the Cleric was able to read it. The page to which the book opened turned out to contain a prophecy: “In the time of trial, when the two tree women have vanished, there will come to Ilgerniltia a mwll.”

“A mwll? What’s that?” asked the dragon.

“It can be translated in multiple ways. It can indeed mean a mole, but could also mean a gopher, a percussion instrument, or a lamppost.”

“So maybe the kingdom is waiting for a lamppost?”

“Wait, I think this piece of paper fell out of the book,” observed Trelnor. This paper was written in plain Ozish, but the handwriting was sloppy and crooked, and the language was fragmented. There were also smudges on it. What the Prince was able to make out said something about a hammer, an elf, a set of golden bells rung backwards, the Imperial Knife, a mushroom, a comb, and the Jewels of Munchkenny.

“Can you make anything of this, Kloimar?” asked the Prince. The Cleric admitted he could not, although it could possibly have been a spell. As they were discussing this, footsteps could be heard outside, and Kloimar blew out the candle and hushed his companions so he could listen.

“Why can’t we just get the jewels ourselves?” complained one voice.

“Because it’s so much easier to get the suitors to do it for us,” replied another, whom the Tralmians recognized as that of the priest. “They’re always expecting a quest.”

“I just hope we can get it over with. That temple is uncomfortable and the roof leaks.”

“Shouldn’t be much longer now,” stated a tiny voice.

“Wait, why is the door off the hinges?” inquired the High Qui-Questioner.

“Oh, it was already rusting,” stated the priest. “Let’s just get some sleep.”

Fortunately, the conspirators made no attempt to light the room, and the Tralmians were able to slip out while they were spreading themselves out on the pews, with some help from a silence charm that Kloimar had. They returned to the castle, where they discussed what they had found.

            “Unless I miss my guess,” said Phlaymer, “those lowlifes are going to get Trelnor to find these jewels.”

            “Well, I won’t do it,” stated the Prince.

            “If you don’t, there’s a good chance they’ll just find someone else who will,” observed Kloimar. “I believe we should go along with it until we find out what’s happening.”

The next morning after breakfast, King Ilgramm once again summoned the Tralmians into his Throne Room to explain Prince Trelnor's final test. “The Three Jewels of Munch have been missing for centuries. In order to pass the test, you must find them and bring them back here.”

            “Do you have any idea where they are, Your Majesty?” inquired the Prince.

            “None at all. It shouldn’t be any trouble for a prince of your caliber to find them, though.”

            “Perhaps you should consult an oracle,” advised the Prime Minister.

            Prince Trelnor agreed to the quest, and the three of them left the kingdom and discussed what to do next. Taking the Prime Minister’s suggestion to heart, Kloimar recalled that he had heard of something called the Oracle in the Coracle in the mountains to the north. So, figuring that was as good a destination as any, the companions set out to the north.

 

 

CHAPTER IV

THE NYMPH AND THE KNOOK
 

At noon, the adventurers stopped at the edge of a forest and ate some of the food that the Ilgerniltians had packed for the journey. After he had finished his small portions of food, Kloimar explored the blue forest. Eventually, he found a strangely-marked tree. The cleric had heard of such marks in his training, and he asked the Hamadryad, or Wood-Nymph, to come out of her home. A young maiden, who looked not unlike Princess Niltia, exited the tree, and asked, “What do you want, sir?”

“I am accompanying the Prince of Tralmia on a search for the Three Jewels of Munch,” replied Kloimar. “Have you ever heard of them?”

“That does sound familiar. I think I remember a wizard named Wam speaking of making the Jewels of Munchkenny for the King of the Munchkins. Of course, that was long ago. It’s easy to lose track of time in a place like this. Nothing much has happened since one of my sisters was banished to the Outside World for using forbidden divination.”

“I have heard of the Wizard Wam, one of the greatest magicians in the history of Oz. If he made the jewels for the King of the Munchkins, perhaps the current King would know where they might be.”

“He might. I’d like to invite you to lunch, but I’m not sure I have anything you humans would like. Mostly just acorns. You might want to stop by my friend Harlan’s place to the north of here. He usually has food, and might be able to help you with your quest as well.”

So Kloimar returned to his companions, and the three of them made their way to the north. Soon, they reached a rather sizeable log cabin, from which a lot of noise could be heard. Trelnor knocked on the door, which was answered by a crooked Knook.

“Are you Harlan?” asked the Cleric.

“Yes, I am. Your dragon doesn’t happen to have been the familiar of a witch or wizard, does he?”

“No, I’m my own dragon,” said Phlaymer.

“Oh, all right. It’s just that I run a home for animals who were abused by witches and wizards. I founded it a few years back with help from my friend Qualf, a bird who was enchanted by a witch named Gharna. We’re having a support group meeting right now.”

At Harlan’s invitation, the three Tralmians entered the cabin and saw a large crowd of animals sitting in a circle. There were cats, lizards, bats, rats, snakes, toads, spiders, a griffin, a lobster, a few monkeys, birds of various sorts, and what appeared to be a miniature unicorn. A woodchuck stood nearby, throwing wood from one pile into another.

“Oh, hello!” said a red bird, as he stretched out his neck. “My name is Qualf. What brings you here?”

“We were just on the way to the north, and decided to stop by,” explained the Prince.

“Very well. Help yourself to some food.  You humans usually prefer coffee and doughnuts, but there’s flies or flowers if you prefer.” Qualf motioned to a nearby table, on which several different kinds of refreshments were laid out. Phlaymer ate a few flies and Trelnor a doughnut and some coffee, while Kloimar turned down the food. As they did this, a toad was discussing how he had been enslaved by a witch for twenty years, kept in a cage except when he was needed for curses.

“My name is Hilda,” declared a hen who sat next to the toad, “and the wizard Hurfbaugh pulled out all of my teeth.”

“I didn’t know hens had teeth,” said Phlaymer.

“We don’t, usually. That’s why I was so valuable to him. It didn’t stop him from keeping me cooped up with no company.”

“Aren’t chickens used to being cooped up?” asked a monkey.

“Not all the time. I lost most of my feathers from molting so much. And look at my friend back there. He’s a woodchuck, and Hurfbaugh kept him to test the answer to a pointless riddle.”

“How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” guessed the Prince.

“Got it in one,” said the woodchuck. “And now I can’t stop chucking it!”

“None of you would happen to have prophetic powers, would you?” questioned Kloimar.

“Only when it comes to the length of the winter. Why do you ask?”

“We’re looking for the Jewels of Munchkenny,” explained Prince Trelnor, “and—“

“The Jewels of Munchkenny?” inquired the unicorn. “I know about them! They were stolen by Wunchie, who was my mistress for centuries. She needed the healing power of my horn.”

“Wunchie? I think I’ve heard of her before.”

“You might have. She was the power behind the throne in much of the northern Munchkin Country. I only escaped after she exploded from eating jumping beans.”

Jumping beans?! I’ve heard of witches being killed by ordinary water, but I’ve never heard of anyone dying from beans.”

“Unless it was from really bad gas,” whispered the monkey to his companion loudly enough for everyone to hear.

“I think they might have been tainted,” the unicorn continued, ignoring him. “She got them from the Wizard of Wutz, who was interested in stealing the Silver Hammer that she’d stolen earlier from a silver sorceress in the Quadling Country. She was always one for danger, and that included dangerous foods. Usually my horn would stop her from getting into too much trouble, but I wasn’t nearby at the time.”

“So do you know what happened to the Jewels?” asked the Prince.

“Not exactly, but I know she hid them in some very remote locations. Maybe if you took me back to her castle, I’d remember, or find the notes she left for herself. If I can decipher her handwriting, that is. She couldn’t even always read it herself.”

“Where is her castle?”

“In the Munchkin Mountains, near Lake Orizon.”

“That’s a long way from here,” observed Kloimar.

“Yes, but I have a friend who might be able to help us. Strawlene, where are you?”

A broom floated in from a nearby room. The unicorn introduced the broom as Strawlene, who used to belong to a witch named Little Blue Schoola. The brooms of witches sometimes came to life due to the various spells employed by practitioners of the dark arts. Once that happened, however, they were enslaved to their riders and often treated poorly. Strawlene had helped to start the Broom Committee that appealed for rights and aid for witches’ beaten and abandoned brooms, and now helped Harlan and Qualf with their support group. She was an old broom, with her bristles having been replaced numerous times and her body rather worn.

“Would you be up for flying to Wunchie’s old castle in the Munchkin Mountains?” inquired the unicorn.

“I think I can manage that,” said the broom in a somewhat strained voice. “When you’re ready, hop on, and we’ll get going.”

“I think it’s best we go now,” said Kloimar. “Thank you for your help, and it was nice meeting all of you.”

The others said their farewells, and soon the Prince and the Cleric had seated themselves on Strawlene. Phlaymer perched near the front of the broom, with the unicorn, whose name was Aliason, in front of him. They had soon left the forest behind, and were on the way over the Munchkin Country.

 

 

CHAPTER V

THE GREAT MUSEUM ROBBERY

 

After the magical hoop did its work, Mandy materialized inside a darkened building, where many odd items were displayed in glass cases. These items included swords, spears, ancient treasure chests, and large gems. Most of the decoration was red, leading the girl to believe she was in the Quadling Country.

“Why, it's a museum,” decided the Goat Girl. “And that must be the jewel I want!”

Although the room was dark, one blue jewel shone with a light of its own. Mandy examined the gem, and found that it looked just as the Master Torch had described it. So she whacked the glass with her iron hand. The protective case was strong, but it yielded to Mandy's iron-fisted blow. However, before the girl could grab the gem, the lights turned on, a siren began sounding, and a short, stout security guard in a neatly pressed red uniform entered the room.

“Don't move, thief!” commanded the guard, pointing a silver gun at the Goat Girl.

Handy Mandy did not obey the officer. Instead, she did the first thing that came to her mind, and hurled Wunchie's hoop at the man. Luckily, Mandy had often played quoits in Keretaria, and the ring hit its target. The guard's arms became pinned to his sides, and he dropped the gun. While the man was rolling on the floor, trying in vain to remove the hoop, Mandy tapped him on the head with her iron hand, causing him to lose all consciousness.

Unfortunately for the Goat Girl, more guards soon ran toward her. Without really thinking, Mandy picked up the stout guard's weapon, and pulled the trigger. A cloud of gas was released from the gun, and this cloud flew over the heads of the patrollers, sending them all into a deep slumber. When a third group of soldiers came into the chamber, the Mernite attempted to repeat the process, but the gas gun was empty, and Mandy's adversaries soon overpowered her and tied her to a chair.

“Why, just look at the girl!” shouted one of the guards. “She's a freak!”

“I am NOT a freak, you old Willagooper!” objected Handy Mandy. “I am a goat girl from the Kingdom of Keretaria.”

“Keretaria? Never heard of it! But you won't be going back there! You are now museum property.”

“Why-y, that's kidnapping, you rascal!”

“No, actually, it isn't," argued another guard calmly. "You attempted to steal the largest and rarest gem in the museum, and we have decided to put you on display, rather than send you to jail.”

“But it isn't your gem! It is the property of the Royal Family of the Munchkins, wickedly stolen by Wunchie the Witch.”

“I beg to differ with you. The Curator paid a fair price for the jewel.”

“Yes,” agreed a third guard. “It cost him half his kingdom!”

“Kingdom? You mean to say the curator is also a king?”

“Quite correct, my pretty young freak. King of Antiqueville. And we'll just go ask him about the best place to display you.”

All of the conscious guards but one left the room. The remaining man marched back and forth in front of Mandy's chair. The Goat Girl attempted to loosen the ropes, and managed to free the arm with her wooden hand at the end of it. With this hand, Mandy rummaged in her pockets, not really expecting to find anything. Fortunately, however, she did find something. The Mernite extracted a magical boomerang, which the Wizard of Oz had given to her on her last birthday. Telling it to retrieve the Jewel of Munchkenny, she threw the magical device toward the broken display case. Although her aim was rather poor, the boomerang caught the gem and brought it right to the Goat Girl's hand. Mandy used the blue jewel's sharp point to cut the ropes, and when she had finished with this task, she leapt up from the chair and ran over to the short guard, who still wore the magical hoop around his waist. While Handy Mandy was removing the hoop, the conscious soldier was pointing and firing his gun. Fortunately for the Mernite, the weak sleeping gas that was released took some time to take effect, and Mandy was able to get the hoop to transport her to the site of the next Jewel of Munch before she dozed off.

 

CHAPTER VI

A RIDE IN A SHOOTING STAR

 

Strawlene was not particularly fast, being long past her prime, but she flew steadily to the north all day. When they made a stop at a small inn for dinner, Kloimar picked up a local newspaper, which featured a headline about the Royal Museum of Antiqueville being robbed. He skimmed the article and summarized it for his companions: “They say the guards who saw the thief claimed she was a fierce fighter with several extra arms. While she caused some property damage, the only thing stolen was a blue jewel. King Logrum, Ruler of Antiqueville and Museum Curator, blames the lack of respect young people have today. Says the kind they get today are even worse than the Noyzy Boyz.”

“Antiqueville is near Tralmia, isn’t it?” asked the Prince.

“Yes, our scholars have frequently assisted their museum researchers. They’re not very nice people, though.”

“I’ll say,” said Phlaymer. “They’re as stuck-up and out-of-date as the items they collect.”

“Wouldn’t it be funny if the jewel that robber stole happened to be one of the jewels we were looking for?” questioned Trelnor.

“I have to suspect the same thing. If someone is trying to gather the jewels, it would not be surprising for them to have sent multiple agents.”

“Then should we go to Antiqueville?”

“No, there’s no telling where the thief is now. The article says she vanished entirely from the museum, so she’s probably using magic. No, we’ll continue to Wunchie’s castle and see what we can find there.”

So the adventurers returned to the broom, who took them over the forests and farmlands of the central Munchkin Country, then along the course of the Munchkin River to the mountains surrounding Lake Orizon. On the unicorn’s direction, Strawlene soared down into a valley between two high mountains, where a dark and shadowy castle stood.

“Yes, that’s Wunchie’s old castle,” said Aliason. Although the place was quite ornate and imposing, it was obvious it had been abandoned for years. The broom flew in through an open window, and the travelers explored numerous empty rooms before reaching one with items strewn about it.

“The castle was more for appearances than anything else,” explained the unicorn. “Wunchie rarely used any of these rooms. This one was where she practiced some of her magic, but it looks to have been pretty well ransacked. I hear the Flying Sorcerer Zim took most of her books and equipment after she died, but I don’t know whether he investigated all of the secret hiding places.” With that, Aliason rapped three times with her horn on the leg of an onyx desk, and a small drawer below the main one opened. This turned out to contain a notebook full of messy handwriting.

“I can’t make fairy heads nor tails of this,” observed Kloimar.

“Let me see,” said Aliason, who began turning the pages with her hooves. The others sat calmly in nearby chairs, terrified to touch anything. Finally, the unicorn called out, “Ah, here it is! The writing is sloppy, but it’s the information we need. The three jewels were hidden in Nnydd, Braz, and the Nome Kingdom.”

“Nnydd? That’s the disorienting wilderness in the Quadling Country,” stated Trelnor.

“Yes, and that sounds to be the only one within Oz,” added the sage, “so that would most likely be the jewel that was stolen from Antiqueville. That is, if that was one of the jewels at all, which remains a hypothesis.”

“The third side on a right triangle?” asked Aliason.

“No, it means an educated guess.”

“Well, I know where the Nome Kingdom is,” said the Prince, “and it has so many jewels I wouldn’t know where to look.”

“Fortunately, the current Nome King is on much friendlier terms with Oz than the old one was. Still, it could prove to be a challenge. Braz, from what I remember, is a great forest on a continent far to the west, on the other side of the Nonestic Ocean.”

“I hope you’re not expecting me to fly you there,” said Strawlene. “I’ll just barely be able to make it back to the Blue Forest after I catch my bearings.”

“Understood. We may have to report to the Queen, and see if she has an airship or magic carpet we can borrow.”

Everyone prepared to leave the castle, although Strawlene tripped and fell into a closet full of glittering dust. As soon as she touched it, she leapt up and observed, “My bristles! I feel at least fifty years younger!”

“I take it you still couldn’t fly to Braz, though,” said the dragon.

“No, I wouldn’t think so. Still, this dust is pretty amazing stuff.”

“Yes, I believe that’s a restorative powder Wunchie used for magic items that were no longer functioning properly,” explained Aliason. “I had forgotten all about it.”

The unicorn led the party out of the castle, where the broom prepared to take off and fly back to the southwest. Before she could, however, Phlaymer called out, “Hey, look! A fallen star!”

“You mean a meteorite?” inquired Prince Trelnor.

“No, an actual star, with points and everything.” And sure enough, on the side of one of the mountains sat what appeared to be a star made of a translucent material, with what appeared to be a fountain on one side. “You know what that could mean.”

Stars that fall from the Nonestican sky were oftentimes sapient beings, like those that formed a community not far from Ohmy Gully in the Winkie Country, but sometimes they were vehicles, such as the one Scraps, Popla and Captain Batt flew and crashed into the Wogglebug’s dream castle.  Prince Trelnor couldn't have known it, but this was that very vehicle once driven by Captain Batt, who'd wandered off from the star in a daze, and eventually settled in ElectraCity.

When the party investigated it, they discovered it was the latter kind. A door was discovered in the fountain, which led into a cabin with walls lined with electric lights, most of which were broken. On one side was a control panel with a chair behind it, and an opossum hanging from the back of it.

“Hey, possum!” called the dragon. “Is this your star?”

“Oh, no,” said the marsupial sleepily. “I just moved in because it was abandoned. Must have fallen out of the sky a long time ago.”

“I wonder if it can still fly,” pondered the Prince.

“No idea. I’ve never been one for mechanics.”

While Strawlene made herself busy sweeping up broken glass, the others examined the instrument panel. Most of the buttons lit up when touched, but did not appear to actually do anything. When Trelnor flipped a switch, a light came on reading, “Out of fuel.”

“What kind of fuel do you think a star runs on?”

“I don’t know. Some kind of magic, probably,” observed Aliason.

“Wait, do you think that dust in Wunchie’s castle would work?”

“That’s not a bad idea,” stated Strawlene. “If it could get me flying again, perhaps it could do the same for the star.”

“Well, count me out,” said the opossum lazily. “If you’re going to be flying, I’ll find another place to stay.”

Using a small washtub from one of Wunchie’s bathrooms, the travelers gathered a large supply of the restorative powder from the closet. Strawlene and Phlaymer, who had been searching the star, found the door to a fuel tank, and Trelnor and Kloimar dumped as much the powder as they could inside it. Taking the tub with the remaining dust inside the cabin, the Prince then pressed a large red button in the middle of the instrument panel. The star began to rise into the air, but after it had ascended a few yards, another light came on, this time with a message reading, “Service recommended. Press green button to return to nearest service center.” Without really thinking about it, Trelnor pushed the indicated button, and the travelers were promptly thrown against the wall as the star lurched farther into the air and above the clouds!

While the riders could see that it was soaring toward the west, the ground was too far away to see clearly. After a few more hours of this, the strange vehicle slowed and descended, coming down next to a small building near the edge of a desert. Phlaymer, whose wings allowed him to recover more quickly than anyone else, led the others out through the trapdoor and into the dwindling twilight. A man in an apron emerged from the building, wiping his hands on a rag, and asked, “What can I do for you fellows?”

“Erm, well, the star said it needed service, and took us here,” explained Prince Trelnor.

“Star? We haven’t serviced those in—oh, must be about a thousand years by now. Fifteen hundred, even. Where would you have found an antique like this?”

“In the Munchkin Mountains.”

“Can’t say as I’ve ever heard of them. Here in Ristill, we used to manufacture such things, but it’s been ages since the industry collapsed. There just wasn’t any money in it anymore, from what I heard. Of course, that’s all ancient history.”

“Are we anywhere near the Forest of Braz?”

“Oh, it ain’t too far from here, not that hardly anyone ever goes there. If you really want to, my advice to you is to take the train from the station over to the west, and get off at Widdicoombe, I think, would be your best bet. That’s on the Brindlebania Line.”

Thanking the man, the Prince and the Cleric walked down the indicated road to the train station, with Phlaymer riding on Kloimar’s shoulder and Aliason on Trelnor’s, and Strawlene floating along behind. While most of the Land of Oz had resisted the building of railroads, there was a small one in Pitt Falls, on the westernmost side of the Quadling Country, not far from Tralmia, so the Tralmians had some idea of what to expect.

The sage used a few of the golden coins he kept in his robe pockets for emergencies to purchase some tickets, with the non-humans allowed to ride for free as they had fortunately remained silent while in the station. Half an hour later, the train pulled into the station, and the Ozites boarded and took their seats. The country through which the railroad ran soon changed from desert to plains, then to gently hilly farmland, although a range of silver-colored mountains could be seen to the north. The party slept on the train, and woke to the conductor calling out, “Widdicoombe! This stop, Widdicoombe!”

 

CHAPTER VII

THE SALESMAN AND THE SEERESS

 

When Mandy awakened in the morning, it was in a quite different location from the one she last remembered. Green grass and beautiful wildflowers surrounded her, and a tall mountain with a white cottage at its foot stood not far to the east. To the southwest lay a pretty city of domed houses.

“My-y, where am I now?” wondered Mandy. “I mustn’t be in Oz, because this place doesn't fit in with any of the Ozian color schemes. But I'm out of that horrid museum, and the second jewel should be somewhere around here. Before I look for it, though, I'd better find some breakfast. Why, I'm as hungry as a goat!”

At first, the Goat Girl considered travelling to the town, but something about the mountain reminded her of her old home, Mount Mern, so she pointed her steps toward the little cottage. As the girl came closer to this house, she noticed a pasture containing a flock of goats in the yard. Upon seeing this, she became anxious to meet the owner of the cottage, since she knew that this person had something in common with her. Mandy knocked on the door of the cottage, and it was soon answered by a pleasant young lady with red hair. This lady bade Mandy a good morning, and invited her to come into the house for a cup of tea.

After Mandy's hostess had poured the tea, she looked into the cup, and said, “You are on some kind of quest, are you not?”

“How did you know?” asked Mandy suspiciously.

“Why, I assume that’s why you came here. I can read fortunes in tea leaves. I'm known in these parts as the Seeress of Saucerville.”

“Is Saucerville that town to the southwest of here?” questioned Handy Mandy, as she sipped her tea.

“Yes. Apparently you’re not from around here.”

Mandy shook her head, and her hostess inquired, “Where are you from?”

“I live in the Kingdom of Keretaria, which is in the northern Munchkin Country of Oz,” was the reply.

“Oz? Why, I've read a great deal about Oz. I don't remember reading about the Kingdom of Keretaria, though.”

“Well, Oz is a big place, and Keretaria isn't a very important Oz Kingdom. But it's a nice place to live, and a wonderful place to raise goats.”

“What? Do you raise goats?”

“Oh, absolutely! I've been taking care of a flock of goats for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was orphaned on Mount Mern, to the east of Oz.”

“You mean you're an orphan, too? Why, it seems we have quite a bit in common, Miss–”

“Mandy is my name, but my friends call me Handy Mandy, because of my seven hands. Everyone on Mount Mern has seven arms, but most Ozites have only two.”

“Well, we only have two here in Whatalow Valley, but it seems that it would be quite useful to have seven.”

“Well, it is useful. By the way, what's your name?”

“Oh, I'm Sally. My husband, Questor, works in the mill at the brook near here. Are you married?”

“No, I'm not. Oh, and I haven't eaten since yesterday. Do you have anything I could eat?”

“How about some scrambled eggs?”

Mandy accepted this offer, and, while Sally prepared the eggs, the Mernite told about her life on Mount Mern, how she first came to Oz, the Kingdom of Keretaria, and her current quest for the Jewels of Munchkenny.

“So one of these jewels is in Whatalow Valley? Well, I'm sure I haven't seen it. We can go to town after breakfast and ask the King to help us find it,” suggested Sally.

Both girls partook of the wonderful breakfast that the Seeress had prepared. Sally explained that she had been orphaned, and, like Mandy, had raised a flock of goats. The Whatalower had not had anywhere near as many adventures as the Mernite had, but she did tell the story of how she met her husband. Just as Sally and Mandy were ready to leave the cottage, there was a knock at the door. Sally opened her front door, revealing an old salesman with a cart full of odds and ends.

“Would either of you ladies be interested in buying something?” asked the man.

Mandy and Sally promptly stepped out of the house and looked over the merchant's goods. They included various clocks, kitchen utensils, necklaces, dresses, and daggers. But the item that interested Mandy the most was a shiny blue stone.

“Ah, that one's a beauty, ain’t it?” said the merchant, as the Mernite examined the rock. “I just found it today in a tree.”

“What would you want for this stone?” inquired Mandy.

“Well, I don't know...”

“What about some herbs and cheese?” offered Sally.

“No, I don't deal in foodstuffs. They're likely to perish on my long journeys. But I would like that pretty hoop-thing.”

“Hoop-thing? Oh, do you mean this?” asked Mandy, holding out Wunchie's magical hoop.

“Yes, that.”

Mandy thought for a few minutes. She had an opportunity to procure the second Jewel of Munchkenny, but without the hoop, she might not be able to return to her home. She finally decided to make the trade. After the merchant left, Sally inquired, “Without your magical hoop, how are you going to get back to your home?”

“I really don't know,” admitted Mandy, “but there must be some way to get there, and besides, I now have the second Jewel!” The Mernite held both gems up so that Sally could see them. The Seeress stated that the color of the second was lighter than that of the first.

“Yes, the Master Torch told me that they would be different shades of blue,” said Mandy, as she absently tapped the stones together. “But they both have the same shape. Good gravy, I just wish I knew how to find the third one.”

“Maybe if you had another cup of tea, I could find out.” Sally poured some tea and read the leaves, telling the Ozite, “It looks like you should journey to the top of Star Mountain. Someone there should be able to help you.”

“I’d better get on my way, then.”

“Actually, if you’ll wait a minute, I’ll come with you. For that matter, if we stop by Widdicoomb, Questor might want to come as well.”

So, after some preparations, the two goat girls left the cottage, Sally locking the door and placing a note on it behind her. After showing Mandy her goats, she led the way to the south and the town of Widdicoomb, where her husband worked as a miller.

 

CHAPTER VIII

WELL MET IN WIDDICOOMB

 

            As Prince Trelnor and his companions left the train at the station, they asked around about blue jewels. As it so happened, an old man with a cart said, “I wish I could help you, but you’re too late.”

            “What do you mean?” asked Trelnor.

            “I just sold one of them to a woman in Whatalow Valley a few hours ago. Found it in a tree down south.”

            “What did this woman look like?”

            “You can’t miss her! She was blonde, with about seven different arms!”

            “Seven arms?”

            “Quite strange indeed! Not that I’m not one to judge, y’know, especially when it comes to paying customers.”

            “Do you think she could be the same woman who robbed the museum?” Trelnor asked Kloimar.

            “It seems likely,” replied the sage. “Maybe if we go to this Whatalow Valley, we can find her.”

            So the small party set out, Trelnor carrying Strawlene under one arm and Aliason and Phlaymer in their typical positions. The country was quite pleasant, with gently rolling grassy hills overlooking a low valley. The first building they came to was a mill, and Kloimar knocked on its door. A tall man with dark hair answered it, and introduced himself as Questor, the miller.

            “We were just in the area, and wondering if you happened to have seen—” began the Prince, but before he could finish Phlaymer soared into the building and called out, “Here she is! The woman with seven arms!”

            “Yes, and who are you?” asked Handy Mandy, who was seated at a table inside the mill next to Sally.

            “We’re from Tralmia, in the Quadling Country of Oz,” said Kloimar, who felt that the situation called for more tact, “and we’re searching for the Three Jewels of Munchkenny.”

            “The Jewels of Munchkenny? My-y, I’m looking for the same jewels!”

            “Who sent you?” demanded the dragon.

            “Sent me? Why, I sent myself. I mean, the Master Torch advised it, but I’m trying to help my friend.”

            “And what does your friend want the jewels for?”

            “He’s been enchanted, and only they can break the spell.”

            “I apologize for Phlaymer’s behavior,” stated Trelnor. “It’s just that the King of Ilgerniltia has charged me with finding the jewels, only we think his corrupt priest wants them for some sinister purpose.”

            “I wouldn’t know anything about that. But hold on a minute. You say you’re from Oz?”

            “Yes, I am Prince Trelnor of Tralmia, which lies to the north of Jinxland. This is Kloimar, my tutor and a cleric; and the dragon Phlaymer. The unicorn is Aliason, and the broom is Strawlene.”

            “Does the broom talk as well?” asked Sally.

            “When I want to,” replied Strawlene.

            “Are talking brooms common in Oz?”

            “Not that I know of,” stated Mandy.

            “When brooms are enchanted by witches for riding purposes, they sometimes begin showing other signs of life as well,” explained Kloimar.

            “All animals in Oz can talk, though. Well, most of them, anyway. Oh, by the way, I haven’t introduced myself yet, have I? I’m Mandy, called Handy Mandy by my friends.”

            “Oh, I think I’ve heard of you!” said Trelnor. “Didn’t you save Oz from one of the old Nome King’s invasions?”

            “Well-ell, I contributed to saving it, anyway. That was when I first came there. I’m now living in Keretaria, when I’m at home.”

            “And this is my wife Sally,” added Questor. “She’s a seeress.” After Sally had said hello to the visitors, the miller continued, “As I was saying, I’d certainly be willing to go to Star Mountain with you. I grew up near there when I was a soldier for King Richard of Rockwood. The only problem is, I’ve been hearing rumors about something eating goats.”

            “What?” asked Sally.

            “Yes, some monster up in the Silver Mountains. It only strikes at night, at least so far, so I was just wondering if we should stay home and watch the goats tonight.”

            “My precognition tells me that my goats are in no danger tonight. Still, perhaps we should ask someone if they want to stop by the place.”

            “I think my apprentice would be willing to do that.” And, after arrangements had been made, the entire group began their journey into the Silver Mountains. As dusk began to fall, they noticed an animal running right across their path.

            “Well, my-y, it’s a goat!” exclaimed Mandy. “Only one horn, though.”

            “My name is Amalthea,” said the goat, “and I’m running from the Chupacabra. Oh, by Ida, here it comes now!”

            Sure enough, as the goat ran to hide behind a bush, a large green monster with enormous eyes and a spiny back came bounding down from a nearby mountain. Acting quickly, Kloimar cast a sleeping spell, making the creature immediately fall into a deep slumber.

            “You saved me!” exclaimed Amalthea, as she returned to view.

            “Yes, but now we have to decide what we’re going to do with this sleeping monster,” observed Kloimar. “The spell doesn’t last that long.”

            Just then, a train whistle sounded, and Phlaymer noted that there was a train nearby. For a lack of any other idea, Trelnor, Questor, and Mandy lifted the animal and placed it on a flat car of the passing train.

            “That won’t get rid of it for good, but at least it will be out of the country,” stated the miller.

            “I believe that train is headed to Ristill, where they know more about monster disposal,” said Sally. “So, Amalthea, are you also from Oz? I notice you’re able to talk.”

            “Oh, no, I’m from Crete,” answered the goat.

            “I’m not sure I’ve heard of such a place.”

            “Oh, it’s to the south of Greece, very far from here.”

            “Amalthea? That name sounds familiar,” said Kloimar. “Isn’t that the name of the goat who nursed Zeus?”

            “Yes, that would be me. That was ages ago, but I was made immortal as a reward.”

            “Wait, so Zeus is real?” questioned Phlaymer. “And is he really the Almighty Lord of the Universe?”

            “He’s mostly retired now, actually.”

            “But does that mean all the old myths are true? Because they always contradict each other. I mean, I’ve studied mythology. Pretty much everyone in Tralmia has. And it says Zeus is the Almighty Lord of the Universe, but also that Odin and Ra are. And in Squeedonia, they believe the world is under the control of a three-legged donkey. Not to mention the fairies speak of a Supreme Master who supposedly created the world.”

            “My belief is that all religion contains a certain amount of truth,” said Kloimar. “Well, maybe not the Squeedonian one, but you never know.”

            “That, and the gods tended to exaggerate. Zeus had a lot of power, but he never ruled the entire world, let alone the universe. Most of his political influence was limited to southeastern Europe, although there were a few other places where he was recognized.”

            “I recently heard a story about how Zeus kicked Queen Lurline, the fairy who enchanted our Land of Oz, out of Olympus,” said Handy Mandy. “And apparently now he lives inside a paperweight on Queen Ozma’s desk.”

            “Yes, the paperweight is a gateway to the world into which most of the Olympians retired. The modern world was too much for them, especially since their worship had almost died out. They do occasionally still visit here, though. They like the fairylands, as they still contain a lot of the old magic that has all but vanished from the Great Outside World.”

            “So what were you doing around here?”

            “I was on my way to visit Way-Up, on the top of Star Mountain. It’s a very nice place. I’ve been there before.”

            “The top of Star Mountain? Why-y, that’s where we were headed!”

            “By the way, do you know anything about a mole god?” inquired Trelnor.

            “Well, there’s a story about moles springing from the blood of the blind King Phineus of Thrace when he died, but I haven’t heard of any mole god.”

            “That’s what I thought,” stated Kloimar.

 

CHAPTER IX

THE WAY UP TO WAY-UP

 

            Amalthea led the way through the stony country of Rockwood, with Questor occasionally pointing out landmarks he recognized. The party spent the night at a small inn near the base of Star Mountain, and the morning were on their way up the peak. It was quite steep, but the goat knew all the best paths, so it was not too much trouble to climb it. She also knew how to avoid all the potentially dangerous countries on the mountainside. At one point, she mentioned that a stump they were passing was the entrance to the Underwood.

            “The Underwood? Is that dangerous?” questioned Handy Mandy.

            “Not so much anymore, since Prince Reddy has gotten married. He no longer tortures people for fun, except on holidays.”

            A few more hours of climbing brought the group out above the clouds, and to a glorious scene on the top of the mountain. Small farms were nestled here and there, and after a while the party reached a town full of silver castles. Amalthea explained that everyone in the capital city lived in a castle, and the King’s was not even the biggest. When they finally made it to the royal yard, they saw a short, fat man and a tall, thin one, both sporting long beards, playing croquet.

            “Your Majesty,” said the goat, “may I present Prince Trelnor, Kloimar, and Phlaymer of Tralmia; Handy Mandy from Keretaria; the unicorn Aliason; Strawlene the broom; and Sally and Questor from Whatalow Valley.”

            “Welcome to Star Top!” shouted the fat man gleefully. “I am King Ripitik, although I’m not currently wearing my crown. It gets in the way when I play croquet. And this is Woff, my Royal Wizard.”

            The visitors explained to the king and the wizard about their quest for the Jewels of Munchkenny, and how the remaining one was said in Wunchie’s book to have been hidden in the Nome Kingdom. When Woff heard this, he asked, “Isn’t that on another continent?”

            “Yes, it’s on the same continent we’re from,” answered Kloimar, “underneath the Land of Ev.”

            “Ev? Why, I’ve been there before! And I know someone there who’s an expert at finding lost things.” With that, the Wizard of Way-Up opened and closed a large pair of scissors he wore at his side, and the party promptly disappeared from Star Top and reappeared on a beach near a tall red castle.

“Why-y, that’s the Castle of the Red Jinn!” exclaimed Mandy.

As Sally looked at the tall red palace at which Mandy was pointing, she asked, “Who is the Red Jinn?”

“Why, he's the Wizard of Ev, and his red magic can easily help me find the remaining jewel, and send you back to your valley.”

“Yes, Jinnicky and I met at a gathering of magicians about forty-five years ago. Come to think of it, the next one should be in a few years,” observed Woff.

“Where’s the King?” inquired Trelnor, who noticed Ripitik was no longer there.

“He had a meeting today with the Minister of Finance, so I figured he should stay at home.”

“So how did we get here, Mr. Wizard?” questioned Phlaymer.

“I used my magic scissors,” answered Woff, as he indicated the shears hanging at his side.

“So they can transport you anywhere?”

“Just about, as long as I keep them sharpened.”

As the party hurried toward the castle, Handy Mandy explained, “I've never actually been to this castle, but I've seen pictures of it, so I recognized it at once.”

“What's it made of?” asked Sally.

“Glass. Magically reinforced red glass.”

“Glass? Are all the buildings in Oz as odd as this one?”

“Some of them are odder, actually. But we're not really in Oz right now. We're in Ev, which lies to the northwest of Oz.”

By this time, the group had reached the hundred steps leading to the Red Jinn's front doors. As they rushed up the stairs, through the palace doors, and down the long hallway leading to the Jinn's throne, Mandy explained to the others about the Wizard of Ev, but these explanations did not prepare Sally and Questor for what they actually saw. The figure seated on the throne seemed to be a red jar with arms, legs, and a head. This jarred wizard immediately said, “Why, if it isn’t Woff, the Wizard of Way-Up! I hope you’re keeping your magical skills SHARP, har har! And Handy Mandy, the girl who’s more arm-y than the military. And is this your sister?”

“Sister? You mean Sally? My-y, what a ridiculous idea! Why, I have seven arms and she only has two!”

            “Just the same, you look like you’re related. Well, maybe we can do something to test that. First, though, what brings you folks here?”

            “We’re searching for the Jewels of Munch...”

            “Jewels of Munch? Why, I have plenty of jewels, but none of them eat anything.”

            “No, no. Munchkenny, like the Munchkin Country in Oz.”

            “Oh, that! Baharat, fetch the blue jewel!”

            One of the Jinn’s servants promptly left the room, soon returning with a blue jewel that resembled the other two Mandy had already found. Jinnicky explained that it had been found in one of his mines, but he had no use for it as it was not red.

            “That’s it!” exclaimed the Mernite, as she took the jewel. She then explained to Jinnicky about the jewels, with Trelnor filling in information about the quest he was sent on by King Ilgramm.

            “Oh, my mercy and mustard! This King Ilgramm has to be up to no good. Before we confront him, though, would you and the red-haired lady mind stepping into my workshop?” So the two women followed the Jinn into a room where many magical components were stored on shelves, and a red chalk circle was marked right in the middle.

            “Now, if you wouldn’t mind stepping into the circle, we can proceed. This is my Family Circle, which can determine relationships between people. It saves a fortune on paternity suits.”

            “I didn’t think you even wore suits,” said Mandy.

            “Oh, I don’t mean like that, har har har!”

            When the two girls entered the circle, Jinnicky grabbed a pair of goggles from a shelf, and looked closely at the goatherds. After about a minute, he stated, “Ah, yes. It looks like you’re half-sisters, from the same mother. As to how many arms she had, I couldn’t say.”

            “My-y, how strange!” exclaimed the Mernite. “I’ve never had any family, you know.”

            “Me neither, at least until I got married,” said Sally. With that, the two goat girls embraced, and Mandy promptly invited the seeress to live in Oz with her.

            “I’m not sure the people of the valley would be able to get along without their seeress,” objected Sally. “Then again, I’ve never had a sister before, and Questor’s apprentice seems about ready to take over the mill. Could my goats come too?”

            “Oh, absolutely-lutely! They could meet my goats. And in Oz, they’ll all be able to talk. And I’m sure the Wizard wouldn’t mind transporting you back to the valley on occasion. I visit my old home on Mount Mern every year.”

            “For now, though, let’s take care of these Ilgerniltian interlopers,” suggested the Jinn. Returning to the throne room, where the others were resting on couches, he said, “Woff, would you do the honors?” With a snip of his scissors, the Wizard of Way-Up transported the group to Ilgerniltia, where they appeared before the King on his throne.

  

CHAPTER X

THE FINAL CONFRONTATION

 

            The King was in a meeting with the three shifty counselors when multiple visitors appeared in his throne room. He recognized three of them as the ones he had sent out on the quest for the Jewels of Munchkenny, but the others were unfamiliar.

            “Where did you come from?” inquired King Ilgramm.

            “Oh, we just popped in,” laughed the Red Jinn. “Just popped in, har har har!”

            “I don’t see what’s so funny about it,” grumbled the man with the keys.

            “Have you found the jewels?” asked the Qui-Questioner.

            “We did, but we’re not sure we want you to have them,” replied Phlaymer.

            “What? Don’t you still want to marry the Princess?” asked the King.

            “Hey-ey! I recognize those three!” put in Mandy. “They’re the ministers for the pretender to the throne of Keretaria! Kerry threw them out after we returned.”

            “That’s a lie!” shouted the priest. “We are the humble servants of the most supreme Sacred Mole.”

            “Sacred Mole? Where? On your back?”

            “THIS Sacred Mole!” The priest opened a small box he was holding, and the mole poked his head out.

            “That’s no god! That’s the pretender himself, turned into a mole by Ozma!”

            “I’ve known plenty of gods, and this rodent is no god,” added Amalthea.

            “What? I will not hear these outrageous accusations in my kingdom!” yelled the King. “The Sacred Mole is the savior of Ilgerniltia!”

            As the King was shouting, Aliason approached him and rubbed her horn against his leg. Ilgramm’s mood promptly changed, and he looked sad and desperate. “What did you do to me, you tiny unicorn?”

            “I just healed you from the false priest’s control,” answered Aliason.

            “But the mole must be sacred! What about the prophecy?”

            “I’ve seen the prophecy, Your Majesty, and it does not necessarily refer to a mole,” stated Kloimar. “It can be interpreted in several different ways.”

            “And even if it does refer to a mole, that doesn’t mean it’s whatever mole just shows up here, does it?”

            “Oh, merciful Munchkins! Guards! Have these impostors locked up in the dungeon!” And as the guards took the officials away, the King said, “They were very persuasive, you know.”

            “I’m not surprised,” stated Handy Mandy. “One of them did have the title of Imperial Persuader at Kerr’s court.”

            “I just wish I had some way of knowing my family was returning.”

            “I think my wife can help you with that,” said Questor. “Would someone fetch His Majesty a cup of tea?”

            Sally was less sure that she could do anything to help the King, but when a servitor had poured some tea for him, she looked into the leaves and declared, “Your family will be located before the cocktopus crows thirty times. Keep an eye out for the Gridsnaddle.”

            “And what are those things?”

            “I couldn’t tell you that. I just figured you’d know, seeing as how I’m a stranger in these parts.”

            “Well, I suppose if it weren’t vague, it wouldn’t be a prophecy.”

            “Yes, they’re very frustrating that way, aren’t they?” said Questor. “But I suppose if they were too clear, we could fulfill them ourselves.”

            “Princess Dorothy was here a few years ago, and she said she had Queen Ozma look in her Magic Picture, and she found nothing. The Wizard’s Searchlight didn’t work either.”

            “The Wizard of Oz? His magic doesn’t amount to much,” said the Jinn. “Maybe I should see what I can find out. First, though, we have an ox to disenchant.”

            Woff transported himself, Jinnicky, and Mandy to Wunchie’s cave. Upon entering, the Jinn threw all three jewels into the air. As they came down, he shouted, “I command the Royal Ox of Keretaria to return to his true form!” He then nimbly caught the magical stones. Nox immediately appeared at the mouth of the cave and continued his grumbling. Then, when he noticed that Mandy was accompanied by the two wizards, he began asking numerous questions, which they and even the Master Torch answered.

Handy Mandy, Woff, Jinnicky, and Nox all visited the King and Queen of the Munchkins, and these Rulers were extremely interested in all of Mandy's odd adventures. The Jinn presented Cheeriobed with the Three Jewels of Munchkenny, and the King promised to keep them safe, in case they were ever needed in the future. They then returned to Ilgerniltia to attend Prince Trelnor’s wedding to Princess Niltia. The newlyweds had a honeymoon in the Emerald City, and the Prince’s companions on his quest accompanied them there. Ozma gave her permission for the Seeress and her husband to live in Oz, and she managed to send Sally's cottage and goats to Keretaria. Amalthea also remained with them for the time being. Questor took up work in a mill on the Munchkin River. Jinnicky and Woff did their best to locate King Ilgramm’s missing relatives, but had no luck in doing so. Mandy and Sally eventually found out about their mother, but that is another story…

 

THE END

 

 

Story: When Handy Mandy and Nox leave Kereteria to visit Regalia, Mandy investigates a mysterious cave, where Nox vanishes into thin air.  A talking torch informs her that this was the former hideout of Wunchie the Witch, who enchanted the cave to ensure that none of the royal oxes would ever enter and discover her.  The only way to get Nox back is to find the three blue Jewels of Munchkenny, which have been scattered.  They were created by the Wizard Wam and given to the King of the Munchkins years ago.  The torch directs her to a magical hoop, which will bring her anywhere she needs to go.  Her first stop is to the Royal Museum of Antiqueville where one of the gems is being held, but when Mandy is attacked by the guardians of King Logrum, she fights back and takes the jewel.  Then she commands the hoop to take her to the location of the next jewel.

 

Meanwhile, accompanied by the dragon Phlaymer and Kloimer the Cleric, Prince Trelnor of Tralmia (located north of Jinxland in the Quadling Country) comes to the Kingdom of Ilgerniltia to ask King Ilgramm for his daughter Niltia's hand in marriage.  The king proposes a series of tests, two of which the prince passes, but the third involves the search for the Jewels of Munchkenny.  Trelnor is determined to do it, but is surprised to see that the princess seems sad or worried about something.  That night, the travelers attend a religious ceremony in honor of the Sacred Mole, which makes them suspicious of the High Qui-Questioner and priest.  Investigating the temple afterwards, they find a prophecy involving the coming of a "mwll," which might be a mole, or something else.  They overhear the priest and High Qui-Questioner discussing the Jewels and their desire for them.  After they depart, Prince Trelnor determines to find them and get to the bottom of the mystery, and the next day the companions head north to the Oracle in the Coracle to discover the location of the jewels.

 

Inquiring of a hamadryad in the Blue Forest, Kloimer and his party are directed north to inquire of the knook Harlan.  Harlan lives in a log cabin, where he runs a home for animals abused by witches and wizards.  Inside, they meet the bird Qualf, who'd been enchanted by the witch Gharna, as well as various animals.  A miniature unicorn named Aliason tells them she's heard of the Jewels of Munchkenny, as she was the mistress of Wunchie who used her for the healing power of her horn.  She suggests they go to the castle of Wunchie, who may have hidden them there.  Aliason calls forth the sapient broom Strawlene, who used to belong to the witch Little Blue Schoola.  Although old and worn, the broom agrees to fly them there.

 

Stopping at an inn, they discover that the museum in Antiqueville's been robbed of a blue gem.  Later at Wunchie's castle, the unicorn notes that the Wizard Zim took all of Wunchie's magic books and appliances, but may have missed some of her hidden places, and indeed she finds a restorative powder, and a paper indicating the three jewels went to 1. Nnydd, a disorienting wilderness in the Quadling Country (after which he jewel went to Antiqueville, 2. the Nome Kingdom, and 3. Braz, a forest on a continent west of the Nonestic Ocean. 

 

Departing, they come across a fallen star, which is out of fuel.  Using the restorative powder, the ship rises up but brings them to an old service center across the sea in Ristill at the edge of a desert on the western continent.  Although they no longer service old stars, the serviceman directs them to the Forest of Braz by way of train to Widdicoombe. 

 

Handy Mandy, meanwhile, emerges in a pretty field near a white cottage, a mountain and small city.  Seeing a flock of goats, she approaches the cottage where she meets the friendly Seeress of Saucerville, who tells her she's in Whatalow Valley.  Over tea, the women discover they have several things in common, including their love of goats and having been orphans.  While Handy explains her quest, a salesman arrives with odds and ends, and Mandy spots the blue jewel she's searching for.  The man will only trade for her hoop, and she agrees.  Wondering how she'll now find the third and go home, Sally checks her tea leaves and tells her she should journey to the top of Star Mountain, where someone will help her.  As they depart to meet Sally's husband Questor, they bump into Prince Trelnor, Kloimer and Phlaymer.  Trelnor recognizes Handy Mandy as a hero who saved them from a Nome Invasion, and they both discover they're on the same quest.  Sally's husband agrees to accompany them to Star Mountain, but is concerned about a monster in the Silver Mountains whose been eating goats. 

 

As they proceed into the Silver Mountains they run into the goat Amalthea being chased by a chupacabra.  Kloister uses a spell to put the monster to sleep, after which they put it on a train.  The goat explains he's from Crete and had ages ago nursed Zeus, who rewarded him with immortality and speech.  This surprises Trelnor, but the goat explains that Zeus' political power was limited to southeastern Europe, and Mandy indicates he's since retired to a paperweight on Ozma's desk, which serves as a gateway to a facsimile Olympus.  Amalthea was heading to Way-Up when the chupacabra attacked, and agrees to lead them there.

 

Passing through Rockwood, they spend the night at an inn, and in the morning pass by the Underwood, where the goat notes that Prince Reddy has married and no longer tortures people for fun, save on holidays.  At last they arrive on Star Top Mountain and meet King Ripitik and Woof the Royal Wizard of Way-Up playing croquet.  When the Scissor Wizard hears that they're looking for the remaining jewel in the Nome Kingdom, he uses his magic shears to bring all of them, save the king, to the castle of the Red Jinn in Ev.  The two had met 45 years earlier at a gathering of magicians. 

 

The irrepressible Jinnicky greets everyone, procures the remaining Jewel of Munch, and determines that Mandy and Sally might be sisters.  He puts them inside a red circle and confirms that they're half-sisters from the same mother.  The girls are shocked, but happy, and Mandy invites her to bring her husband and goats and come live in Oz with her.  The Red Jinn then whisks all of them to Ilgerniltia, where Mandy recognizes the priest and High Qui-Questioner as the ministers for the pretender to the throne of Kereteria, and the Sacred Mole as the pretender himself, whom Ozma had turned into a mole!  When the king objects, Aliason rubs her horn against his leg, freeing him from the control of the false priest.  They're arrested and the king admits he's been missing his family, who've vanished.  Sally reads tea leaves and utters a prophecy about finding them before the cocktopus crows thirty times, but to beware the Gridsnaddle.  The king doesn't know what those are, and Jinnicky determines to try and find out.  But first, he throws the three jewels into the air and commands the return of Nox the Ox.  He materializes and they fill him in on what's gone on.

 

Mandy, Woof, Jinnicky and  Nox then visit Cheeriobed and Orin, presenting them with the three Jewels of Munchkenny.  They return to Ilgerniltia to attend the wedding of Prince Trelnor and Princess Niltia.  The party accompany them to the Emerald City, where they honeymoon.  Ozma grants Sally and her husband permission to settle in Keretaria, where Amalthea joins them for a time.  Although Jinnicky and Woof are unable to locate the king's family, Mandy and Sally eventually come to find out about their mother.

 

Continuity notes:

Dating: Although there's no explicit date, Handy Mandy says she "recently heard a story about how Zeus kicked Queen Lurline, the fairy who enchanted our Land of Oz, out of Olympus."  That story was told in Lurline and the White Ravens of Oz.  Assuming "recently" is within a year, that gives us a 1989 date.

 

Original Versions: The text of "Handy Mandy and the Jewels of Munchkenny" is virtually the same, only now with the addition of her meeting with Prince Trelnor and his companions.  It can be found here.  The original version of "Prince Trelnor of Tralmia and the Olympians," on the other hand, has been radically changed, and the author's original note revealed that the narrative itself was "unreliable" as it was told by the Munchkin minstrels and subject to embellishment.  At the time, the prince could not be reached for comment.  It can be assumed, then, that this revised version is the actual story of what happened.  In the first version, the dryad magically sent them to Mount Olympus where they complain to Jupiter/Zeus that his daughter Diana has teamed up with a false mole god to create a golden hammer in Oz and cause trouble.  The original version can be found here.

 

Talking Brooms: Sapient brooms were first introduced in Lucky Bucky in Oz, where the witch Old Blue Schoola, a minor Munchkin witch, was first introduced. This is the first story in which one has been given an active role.  Another talking broom that had once been ridden by a witch appears in The Astonishing Tale of the Gump of Oz.

 

Sally the Seeress: Revealed to be the sister of Handy Mandy, Sally the Seeress of Saucerville, Questor, Widdicoombe, and Whatalow Valley come from the Thompson short story "The Seeress of Saucerville."

 

Way-Up and Other Lands: The Silver Mountains, Star Mountain, Way-Up, King Ripitik, Woof the Wizard of Way-Up (aka. the Scissor Wizard), Rockwood and King Reddy of Underwood are all from Ruth Plumly Thompson's Way-Up stories, which are collected in The Wizard of Way-Up and Other Wonders.  This story definitively places these characters and locations in a continent west of Nonestica.  Another Thompson location, Ogowan and Big Enuf Mountain (from King Kojo) are located on the continent Tarara (see The Royal Explorers of Oz).

 

Wunchie: This witch is noted as being the power behind the throne in the northern Munchkin Country for centuries.  She has a miniature unicorn slave named Aliason whose horn enabled her to heal from various ailments.  Aliason was away when Wunchie ate the jumping beans of the Wizard Wutz, who'd poisoned them. 

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