The Never Ending Story -
The text to-date (7/08/08)


Chapter Infinity

     It was a dark and stormy night, but the weather was perfect if one had time to enjoy it.  the darkness of evil had suddenly returned to the Kingdom of Silvana after years of peace.  Someone had summoned the purple dragon from its lair to destroy Astara - Silvana's capital city, with its fire breathing storm of death.
     "Only a very powerful mage would have the ability to summon a dragon to do their bidding!" said Jinx, the king's advisor.
     "Assemble the war council now!" said the king.  Quickly, Jinx hurried off to find

The Dragon
the messenger staff who would locate the council members and bring them to the assembly hall.  As Jinx walked briskly through the palace halls, she considered how quickly the day had changed...
     The day had begun clear and bright as usual for the season.  By late afternoon, the sky was dark and gray!
      from her office window, Jinx spotted two of The Christmas Elves in the distance.  the elves were flying straight and fast toward the capital without any of their signature soaring and looping.  It wasn't long before Jinx knew the reason for their intense flight.  The elves had seen the dragon devastate a small town to the south and had heard that it was on its way to Astara.
     The storm, which began an hour ago, continued to rage.  Jinx knew that the war council would
The Christmas Elves
take forever to assemble, and even then the council's factionalism might be too divisive to unite them quickly, even in the force of immanent danger.
     Jinx paced her office impatiently.  As the king's advisor, she had earned her reputation for wise decisions which averted crises.  A powerful mage is behind this, she thought, and dragons - particularly purple dragons - are imbued with a powerful magic.  I'm going to call a mage to catch a mage.
     Jinx sent for her old nemesis, who was never-the-less, the most powerful wizard she knew...
     But characteristic of all powerful, self-absorbed mages, Purox took his own sweet time to reply to Jinx's impetuous summons.  And when he did arrive, black cloak billowing and yellowed eyes flashing, it was in the middle of another cold, stormy night when Jinx was wrapped snuggly in her woolen blanket.  At the loud and completely unexpected entrance of the arrogant mage, Jinx leaped out of her warm bed, her bare feet smacking Captain Jim
against the cold stone floor.  Even as Purox lowered his wasted arms to face her, the dying embers of the fire blazing to life once more, Jinx spun around with a naked blade in her hands.
     "I will do hat you ask of me," Purox sneered, "but for a price.  You must bring  something to me.  A prize of great value and power.  And you must bring it to me soon.  For even now the dragon approaches the castle." With a vicious scowl, Jinx demanded, "Tell me what your price is." 
JT Thomas
"First off, a Martini, man! Er, woman. My pardon." he said.  Then the mage gave out an unpleasant chuckle.  "Up in the hills beyond Astara, there are many caverns and caves to be found.  Within one of these caverns is a small casket.  It contains..... Well, you do NOT need to know what it contains.  Suffice it for you to know that the casket is what I will demand in return for my help."
Jinx hesitated, then retorted, "All well and good, but where is this cavern.  I presume you know. . . or do you?"
Martini Man
Purox gave a sly look at Jinx, then turned his gaze to the hills.  "It will be a long journey, requiring much hiking through kettles and moraines.  However, I'm sure a skillful advisor such as yourself will not find it too much of a challenge."
      Jinx quickly replied that a walk in the woods was usually a pleasure and she would willingly undertake the quest in the hope of saving Astara.
     Purox replied, "Be forewarned that many dangers lie on the
WI Hiker
arduous journey to the caverns and the casket hidden there in.  the first passage of your journey will be aided by Ardea, powerful sorceress and keeper of the enchanted heron feather."
    Jinx assembled potions, incense, spells, libations, and sustenance for the journey, then commended herself to the protective wings of Ardea, who flew her upward toward the forbidding network of caverns, leaving her on a ledge where
she believed the path began, to the only one who would know which cavern held the casket: Merlin.  Once falconer to the king's grandfather (and rumored to be a powerful wizard himself) he had retired to the high crags to be near his charges.  Before Jinx could begin there was a rustle beside her.
     "Behold! I know of your quest." the old, dry voice of Merlin came through the dark.  "I will show you the way, but will not name the danger that awaits you."
     Jinx stood quietly, rigid, and pale with fear as the great wizard emerged from the shadows.  He was dressed in a robe of deep violet velvet, with ropes of gold and silver woven into the velvet to create a sense of shimmering wonder - truly a sight to behold.  His wand in his right hand glowed with a purpose - he exuded authority.
     "Oh, great one," Jinx said, "I seek a cavern with a casket.  Tell me what animal will be guarding the entrance."
     Merlin said, with great reluctance..."This animal is very unusual because it is part horse, part man."
     Jinx was quite taken and said, "Merlin, oh great one, is this animal friend or foe?"
      Merlin's facial expression became perplexed and his face became as red as the sunset on a hot autumn night.  He was about to speak, when he held his chest and fell to  
Agent Ink
his knees.  Just then Jinx heard a flutter of wings and a great jet black crow wearing a golden crown landed.  The creature leaned forward and she heard softly in her ear...Transport! ...Cavern!
      Her view of Merlin faded when she cleared her eyes and she found herself
being picked up by the crow's claws and carried away, up and over the country side.  Jinx opened her eyes to see rivers and castles below, hills and pastures and farm land.  The crow swooped through corn fields and over mountains.  Then they came to the shore of a great ocean.  They flew for many days 'til they reached the island of Japan.  The crow dropped Jinx at the opening of the cavern and she moved to the entrance Japanese Monkey
when suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a strange rock formation.  Upon closer examination, she realized it was shaped like a schoolhouse!  someone had even placed a small bell between the two top rocks.
     As she approached these rocks, she didn't notice the wore on the ground until it was too late!  With a loud pealing clang, the small bell rang louder that thought possible!  suddenly a flight of arrows pinned Jinx to the rocks!  Out stepped the creature that Merlin warned her about.  "Conjunction, junction!" it exclaimed, "What's your function?" It probed Jinx.  Jinx scrambled for her hook up phrases and clauses together...
The Dragon
but where to start?  She stuttered and stammered, unable to come forth with why she was there.  The creature grew impatient and stepped closer to Jinx who was still unable to free herself from the rocks.  "Well!" the angered creature exclaimed leaping toward Jinx, "what is you function?  Why do you disturb us!?"  Jinx could now see that the creature was a lizard, a giant lizard, with two heads.  Jinx swallowed her fear and spoke with confidence, "The cavern containing a casket is why I come."  The two heads looked at one another, smiling mischievous grins.  "You seek the casket, do you?" said the one. "Yes." Jinx replied. Leapin' Lizards
     The creature chuckled deviously..."Maybe the obvious isn't necessarily the best choice:  Jinx looked back at the creature expectantly. "Ok," the creature said, "I'll give you a clue.  Go back to your earliest memories.  Search back even further.  Danger lies in the obvious.  The right choice will come from within.  Count back to the date of your earliest memory.  What you seek lies under the rock with this many crystals."
     "Hmmmm.." Jinx pondered.
Deb Rocks
     "My earliest memories, eh? Jinx thought. "Well...let's see.  I remember McManuel, my beloved teddy bear.  Hey -where did he ever wind up?  I really should check Mom's attic one of these days.  Wait - Mom's attic..." Czeltic Girl
Suddenly it dawns on Jinx that this grammar spouting lizard was trying to distract her from the prize she'd journeyed so far to obtain.  Struggling, Jinx pulled one arm free and quickly reached into her bag pulling out her flute.  Soon the soft hypnotic tunes of the kokapelin flute filled  the cavern.  Angry hisses burst forth from the startled lizards, but quickly faded as the two heads swayed gently to the beat of the native music.  Their eyes began to close and Jinx Moofie
continued playing, for not only does the flute subdue the lizards, it summons Moofie, the all good enchantress who looks over Jinx.  Upon seeing Jinx's situation, Moofie flew into action.  She hurled a blaze at the lizrds which snapped them out of their trance and sent them scurrying deep into the cool earth to ease the burning.  Moofie then freed Jinx from the rock and queried if all was now well.
     "I should be fine from here." Jinx replied, as she headed into the cavern to find the casket.
     Sending her thanks behind her, she continued farther into the cavern.  She found wedged into the walls glowing crystals which helped to light her way.  the bluish glow showed Jinx two passage ways to follow - one reared to the left and the other to the right.  Not knowing which to take, she paused for a moment.  With only her breath echoing off the walls, a small clinking sound could be heard coming from the left passage.  She set off in that direction. Ann
    Slowly, the clinking became louder.  As she rounded a corner, she came upon a small green little person chained to the wall.  Feebly he looked up and said, "I am a prisoner here and if you help me, I can promise you a rich reward."  Hesitating, she sighed.  The little green man wailed lowly and pleaded, "Please let me see the sun again!" Golden Boy
    "I cannot give you the sun," she sighed.  "I can however, leave you with some tacos to sustain you until someone else come along." Team Taco
     "Tacos!" he said, "T don't eat Mexican food - it gives me gas.  So I will pass.  However, I see that you have some wine with you and if you would share that with me, I will sit with you and share the story of my adventure... SpringChick
...but I warn you, it is a very sad and tragic story, full of broken hearts, betrayal, and a lingering, suspicious smell coming from the back of Delirium
the zoo.  Which reminds me, that was where I was headed not too long ago.  Please meet me near the enclosure of the most exotic animal that house.  The Shutterfly
mighty python of Montazuma.  If caught by this python, you could be swallowed whole. Teach and Preach
     As Jinx pondered a visit to the zoo, it occurred to her that this little green man was distracting her.  With CignaCat-like reflexes, Jinx pounced on the little green man, pinning him to the wall.  "Reveal yourself, for a prisoner you truly are not!"
     Before her eyes, the man's torso transformed into that of a horse and with a becoming voice he spoke.  "You are wise to not be lulled away from your quest.  The world is in danger and help may come from the casket within.  Behind me is the cavern you seek, but you must answer this riddle to pass:"
The CignaCats
     "RIDDLES!? You want riddles?" Jinx, shocked to hear a third voice in the cave, turned to see an odd, egg-shaped being waddle into view.  "You want a riddle?" he repeated, "I'll give you one.  How come the more expensive the hotel, the less service you get free.  No Wi-fi, fewer TV channels, and don't get me started about local calls."  The creature pounded on a fleshy palm to emphasize the point.  "That is if you can find a room around here!"  With that the round mass continued down the cavern and out of view, still grumbling.  Jinx and horseman shook their heads.  "Poppets..." Jinx said.  The voice trailed yet, "Fifteen dollars for a ham sandwich, can you believe..." Half the Poppets
    "Ermm.." said the green man, "...never mind him.  He's just the ghost of kvetchmas past."  Jinx just stared.  The green man spoke again.  "Now, about the answer to that riddle...: Czeltic Girl
     Jinx's thoughts were muddled.  The incense was clouding her mind.  She reached into her backpack for some herbs to clear her senses.  Finally, she felt ready to solve the riddle.  Eyes closed, she asked the green creature to repeat the riddle.
     "Very well, " said the green one. "What is black and white and red all over?"
     "The Onion?" Jinx hesitantly replied.
     The green one, who was not much into comedy, took out a wand and said, "I didn't come here to listen to the wit and wisdom of some smart-mouthed advisor to some obviously dull king and his ridiculous quest for who knows what!"
     Just before Jinx was to go up in a burst of flames, a wandering armadillo stepped in and deflected the wand-blast with its strong armor.
Armadillo Jo
     The wand-blast bounced off the brave armadillo and bounced directly into the green one.  The green one cried out in pain as he burst into blue flames.  Yet the green one did not burn, but was trapped in a pillar of blue flames.  Jinx stared in horror at the sight, but then quickly turned her attention to the stunned armadillo. Laughing Coyote
Who was still curled up in a tight little ball. 
     The brave creature uncurled itself.  "Thanks for nothing!" it called out.  Jinx thought it was talking to her, when a cat stepped out of the shadows and calmly sat down.
     "You seemed to have it under control," the cat murmured.  "Isn't that why you have all that armor?"
     "Who are you?" Jinx asked.  The cat paused in the washing of its face and replied, "I am the wandering cat and that is my companion, the Armadillo.  We are here to assist in any way possible."
     Jinx looked at the cat contemplating it's place in this strange story.  A glint of gold and red caught Jinx's eye.  "What is that around your neck?" she asked the cat.  Jinx could see a coin of some kind around the cat's collar.
     "This is the Mystical Coin of Xiaodong.  Bring this coin back to Merlin and he will help you."  Jinx reached for the coin on the cat's collar, but before she could reach it
Xiaodong Coin?
a low rumble, followed by a crack and swish filled her ears.  Her back got very warm, and as she gazed into the terrified eyes of the cat, she saw a river of fire tumbling towards her followed by the menacing immense body of the dragon!  Jinx didn't think, she just grabbed the cat (whose claws dug into her forearm and tail wrapped tightly under her armpit) and ran...
     Not looking back for fear the dragon was gaining ground, Jinx just ran.  In the deepest part of her heart she sent up a wish most fervent and powerful.  Her wish was answered when
a sudden swarm of funky frogs leapt toward the dragon to stop it by spitting swamp water to douse the flames.  Jinx, running with the cat in her arm, felt so relieved that she had escaped from the clutches of the dragon.  She was thankful for her friends the funky frogs. Then when she thought everything was fine Funky Frogs
the cat wriggled free from her grasp.  She tried to catch it but he scratched her across the face, leaving three gaping marks [in] which blood now trickled.  She ran after the cat, but it ran too fast, in the opposite direction from where she should go!  All of a sudden Jigsaw
Jinx heard arguing further into the cave.  Regaining her sense of purpose to the mission of bringing back the coffin for Purox.  In exchange for vanquishing the dragon, she continued down the passageway and the closer she got to where the coffin is supposed to lie, the arguing voices got louder, more recognizable.  And as she turned, she could hear Merlin, Purox, the King, the Powerful sorceress Ardea and Purox's mentor, guardian of all magic, Clorox.  And they were all arguing about her! Kevin and Todd
Jinx crept closer to hear better, but deep inside the cavern was damp, especially with all of the spitting the frogs did and she found herself doing a lot of puddle jumping. Puddlejumpers
Suddenly, there was an explosive sound coming from the pillar of blue flames farther back down the cavern.  It was a sound like blue thunder, the most ominous she heard in the land.  Jinx's eyes grew big as she saw Blue Thunder
not a little green man freed from the blue pillar of flames, but rather there stood a little green monkey and all around the cavern grew gigantic hyacinths.  Jinx gathered up as many of these flowers as she could carry.  The monkey, now free to move about, accompanied Jinx back to where she could hear the voices.  A new voice was heard singing a new song. Little Green Monkey & Hyacinth
As Jinx was trying to quietly gather an earful of the argument, a tuxedoed doorman, KD Kadiddlehopper, loudly proclaimed "Good King, Clorox, Purox, Merlin, and Ardea, I present the wandering Jinx and the Little Green Monkey!"
As all were gathered there it was obvious it was not this passage where the coffin was hid.  The arguing had been over whether Jinx had already procured it, but Jinx only had an idea where it could be.
KD Kadiddlehopper
She quickly led the group down the other passage, which eventually led out of the mountain and into a forest.  Among the thick stands of timber they were able to make out the faint tracks of an odd type of footwear.  some instinct told Jinx this was the path to take to find the elusive, yet desperately needed casket.  The Strange tracks were joined by  thin, continuous line, but that veered off as suddenly as it came.  As the group continued to make their way through the timber, they came upon something lying next to the path just ahead... Timbertoes

leaving Bicycle HH

A pair of foxes sat silently near a loom, whose most impressive feature was a dark blue shuttle.  Working the loom was an elderly woman, her long silver hair hanging almost to the ground and at time threatening to be weaved into the tapestry.
At such a strange sight, the group stopped.  With  the exception of Purox who glared at her as if he recognized her, they all stared at the old woman in amazement.
Jinx, who was the first to recover her voice asked, "Excuse me, but who are you, and what are you doing?"  The woman replied, "I am Silvena, for whom the kingdom is named.  As to my purpose....
Fox-Fyr and Purple Fox w/ Roving Shuttle HH

before the days became dark and evil  moved across the land, I ruled the fair nation of Silvana.  Although we were a peaceful people full of compassion and good will, we had our enemies.  One enemy in particular was eager to see our downfall, so when the purple dragons appeared, we knew who was behind it.  I have been forced into hiding until I can retrieve the golden acorn from the far-off Fer Mountains. If you would help me, I can offer some of my magical woven fabric which Fermont w/ Blackjack Acorn HH


will protect you as you sleep.  Under this magically woven blanket, you shall lay secure from bedbugs to blast bugs; from vicious funky frogs to the deadly Laughing Coyote.  It will even protect you from the evil Sticotaur that hunts these parts. With the cover of night, it hunts without sound.  A beast, half man, half donkey, it will put to rest anyone with one fatal kick."  She gave them the shrunken hand of The Lost Wanderer.  Jinx hesitated, but when [s]he touched it, the hand opened to revel a map.  On the palm of the awakened hand read the directions to Slince of Bloomington w/ Bedbug HH


the secret location of the golden acorn.  this precious artifact had been destroyed centuries ago when a dreadful fire burned the Great Library, which housed our people's most worthy knowledge. Then Jinx LST w/ the Pennsylvania HH


swiftly took the map and dashed down the passageway.  Finally alone, Jinx opened the precious map.  The golden acorn must be found before returning to her quest for the cherished casket.  surprisingly the acorn was not far away - but she needed the crows to return to carry her over the raging water separating the island chain.  Closing her eyes, she hummed softly and summoned Paul and Jan
Lizard Lovers

the crows.  She was surprised to see an object in the lead crow's mouth.  As he cawed, the shiny object fell at her feet. It was a CD labeled Big Brain Box with a message on the envelope to take it with her.  Would the CD hold the secret to Front Range Hiker
the location of the acorn?
Wait - that was not a crow - it was a hawk!  And what is that dangling from its left claw - a deep red rose!  Beautiful but [she] needed to find that acorn.  [She] was hypnotized by the beauty of the rose - then it was floating softly through the air.  [She watched captivated until it landed softly just a few yards in front of [her].  As [Jinx] approached it, [she] could see
Hawkeye & Cherokee Rose 2 & Mister Magoo

that the rose was indeed a music box playing a lone song.  The words of the song hypnotized [Jinx] and told [her] in order to find the acorn [she] must find the wise old duck and to find him [she] must Kyle and Heather
either  a) invent the internet or b) follow the call of the heartbroken duck.  The duck's call was easy to follow, but upon reaching him he would only speak of his lost love.  He could not be cajoled into divulging the secrets until his true love was found.  She wasn't a partrige, but With a Cherry on Top
another duck, of course.  Jinx took a moment to collect her thoughts.  "If I find the duck's true love, he will give the location of the the acorn.  If I find the acorn the old woman with the loom will give me the magical woven fabric that protects against the evil slicotaur.  this is all beginning to make sense.  The evil Slicotaur must be the monster guarding the cavern in which lies the casket which I need to retrieve in order to get Purox to assist me in defeating the purple dragon.  A hero's quest is never easy," thought Jinx.  "What I need now is some good luck of Astara will be destroyed." Fox-fyr

Suddenly, a brilliant idea came to Jinx!  "All I need is a mirror to trick the duck into seeing his true love!" thought Jinx.  Jinx dug into her leather napsack and found between her spells book and potion recipes, her makeup mirror.  A girl still has Pirates 3

to look good on a mission to save Astara. Jinx walked for a while till she came to a pond.  She saw a fluff of feathers sitcking up from the water.  "Oh my gosh, it's a...mother duck!  Jinx was reminded of her own mother's wisdom - of the last words she spoke to her, those great words that penetrated her soul, words that still echo in her mind, and bring tears to her eyes every time she thinks of them - the simple phrase Rick in Boca
"The hawk floats effortlessly as a soul on the air."
Jinx knew in her heart that this was a significant clue in her quest, but what could it mean and how did it apply to her?  As it began to snow, she spied a cat walking toward her.  Aha! The cat must know!  Just as she expected, the cat began speaking...
"Don't think about it so much," said Snow Cat.  "These things - tasks, if you will - will all fall into place like snow from the sky.
Sauntering through the forest, the cat paused to gaze disdainfully at Jinx's stunned face.  she looked at the mirror in her hand as the cat walked out of view, and wondered to herself, "Maybe I should just
Snow Cat
have a wee discussion with Mysterious Stranger."
the stranger paused from her mysterious tasks and advised Jinx to reflect on what she had heard - sage advice from the voices of the past, and from the cat.  Perhaps she WAS too lost in personal thought and reflections...time to act - enough of wandering? Or...
Mysterious Stranger

or perhaps I am doomed, she thought, to a long lifetime of encountering unusual characters...who seem to flit into my travels and then quickly out again...each apparently on a quest of their what could I.... TJ_Mich
Jinx's meandering train of thought was interrupted be the croak of a frog, somewhere in the marshes behind her.  She turned towards it, and standing right behind her was the duck!  Startled, Jinx instinctively raised her hand to defend herself and in the small makeup mirror she had forgotten she held, the duck saw her own reflection.  The duck breathed in in surprise, "Such a small image on that miror...just as me children looked to me.  My truest loves."  The duck seemed to smile at Jinx, and then disappeared into thin air, leaving behind Kermit
a small horn with a note that read: "When you come to any water and need help, blow this horn, and a ship called the Leviathan will appear and its captain Edward Blackwulf will aid you.  He will take you where you need to go."  Just then Jinx blew the horn, and out of swirling mists in the water the ship appeared. The good captain spoke: "My name is Captain Blackwulf, how may I serve you?"  Jinx looked at the man and said The Pirate Edward Blackwulf

"Oh, Captain Blackwulf!  I'm so glad to meet you.  I am very hungry and heard that nearby there is a wonderful popcorn wagon with a very nice popcorn lady.  Do you know of the wonderful treats she gives?" The captain looked puzzled and replied Popcorn Lady