by Damon Z. Pythias


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 is 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 the King 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," replied the Prince, "Prince of Tralmia, one of the greatest Kingdoms in the Quadling Country."

"If it's so great, 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, that isn't even on Professor Wogglebug's official map of Oz," retorted the dragon.

"And is Tralmia on the official map?"

"As a matter of fact, it is."

The dragon was right about this. Ilgerniltia was not on the Professor's map, and, until a month before this story began, neither was Tralmia. However, a young Tralmian had enrolled in Professor Wogglebug's Royal College. This caused the educated insect to place the Kingdom of Tralmia on his map of Oz, several miles north of Jinxland.

"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 at the head of the table, which had been carved from blue marble, 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, 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.

When the courtiers and visitors had finished eating, King Ilgramm, the Prime Minister, Prince Trelnor, the Cleric, 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, who were involved in a whispered conversation, and the Princess. 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, which was located near the castle. The King commanded the visitors to join the natives at the temple. A service of worship for the mole god was then held. The priest in charge of the ceremony 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. After the service, dinner was served, and, 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 this worship of the mole god 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?" questioned Phlaymer.

"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.

"I have a spell that can help us," announced the Cleric.

"What kind of a spell, Kloimar?" whispered Trelnor.

"A spell that will enable us to see and hear what is going on inside. I sense a powerful presence in there."

Kloimar whispered a spell, while waving his hands in an odd pattern. When he had finished, a portion of the temple wall seemed to disappear, allowing the visitors to see the inside. Questo and his two friends stood before the throne, and the priest held a blue box. A woman, who looked beautiful, but had an emotionless expression on her face, was also in the temple.

"We need only one more item, oh great Hecate, and then our plan will be complete," said the priest.

"Actually, three more," corrected the companion of Questo and the priest, who carried a large key-chain.

"But all three of them are located in one place. The Three Jewels of Munchkenny."

"Then I shall have my revenge, my true form, and my bride," said a voice from the box. The owner of the voice was a mole, who poked his head out of the box as he spoke.

"Your Golden Hammer will have even more power than the silver one that Wunchie and I created centuries ago," added the woman. "But how are you going to obtain the jewels?"

"The same way we got these other things, oh great Hecate," replied the priest. "We'll send that Prince to get them."

"You'd better be careful with him," warned the High Qui-Questioner. "He seems quite intelligent."

"Oh, he'd do anything for that Princess. He's almost as love-stricken as our mighty mole god, here."

The mole swung his paw toward the priest's face, but he missed it. The creature then calmed down, and said, "Well, I do love the Princess, and she will marry me, as soon as I have the power of the Golden Hammer."

"You mortals are all fools," stated Hecate.

"We are not mortals," objected the man with the keys.

"Well, you would be, if that fairy Lurline hadn't have enchanted this place. I shall go now, to hunt in the Great Gillikin Forest. Call me back when you have the Jewels."

With that, Hecate disappeared in a flash of light. The three men then sat in chairs, and continued to converse.

"I don't like working with that goddess," complained the man with the keys.

"Well, how would we obtain the power of the Hammer Elves without her help?" questioned Questo.

"If the mole god had spent more time looking for the Silver Hammer, and less time relaxing and trying to court the Princess, we wouldn't be in this situation now," said the priest. "But he let Ozma get the Hammer, and we were all banished from Keretaria."

"Let's not argue anymore," advised the mole. "Let's get some sleep. I'm very tired."

"You're very tired? You sleep all day, while I have to hold these stupid services," grumbled the priest.

"Oh, just shut up and go to sleep. I may be a mole, but I'm still your master."

The men and the mole soon fell asleep. Trelnor, Kloimar, and Phlaymer then returned to their room, where they discussed what they had seen and heard.

"I remember learning about Hecate when I learned mythology back in Tralmia," stated the Prince. "Wasn't she the same as Diana, goddess of the hunt?"

"Quite correct, Your Highness," said Kloimar.

"Well, how are we going to defeat that mole and his helpers? They have aid from a goddess."

"The Olympians have their limits. Hecate needs help to obtain the Jewels of Munchkenny."

"Well, I won't help her, so that's that."

"If we don't bring the Jewels here, someone else will. Therefore, we must travel to the home of the gods, and obtain some divine help for ourselves."

"But don't the gods live on Mount Olympus, in the Great Outside World?"

"Actually, Mount Olympus is only a gateway to the Kingdom of Olympus, the realm of Jupiter and his subjects. There are several of these gateways, and one is here in Oz."

"Then let's go there!" shouted Phlaymer.

"No, let's wait until morning," suggested Prince Trelnor. "That way, the people here won't be suspicious."

The next morning, after breakfast, King Ilgramm once again summoned the Tralmians into his Throne Room. He then explained Prince Trelnor's final test.

"You must now get the Three Jewels of Munchkenny from the Sapphire City," stated the King.

"But isn't the Sapphire City your capital?" asked Trelnor. "You'd be stealing from your Ruler!"

"It is the will of the great mole god, which is more important than the will of Cheeriobed, or any other earthly Ruler."

"Very well, Your Majesty. I shall presently set out for the Sapphire City, and soon return with the jewels."

"Very good."

As soon as Trelnor's party had passed out of the Ilgerniltian city limits, the Prince's horse, who had been kept in King Ilgramm's Royal Stable, questioned, "So where are we going?"

"Well," replied Prince Trelnor, "the King wants us to go to the Sapphire City, but he's under the influence of some men who want to create a magical hammer. So we're going to the Kingdom of Olympus instead."

"However, both the Sapphire City and the Sacred Peak lie to the north," said Kloimar. "So just travel north for the present."

So the Tralmians did travel north. 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 to the Sacred Peak in the Gillikin Country," replied Kloimar. "Would you happen to know the quickest route to this mountain?"

"Why, I have a transportation tree that could send you to a place near the Sacred Peak."

"I would be exceedingly grateful if you would let us use this transportation tree."

"Get your friends, and I'll show you the way."

When Kloimar returned to the Nymph's tree, along with his companions, the Dryad led the Tralmians to a hollow tree. After the maiden spoke a few magic words, the hollow in the tree began to glow. The travellers stepped into the hollow, and thanked the Wood-Nymph for her help.

"Goodbye!" called the Nymph. "Say hello to Ceres and Pomona when you reach Olympus."

Before Phlaymer entered the magical portal, he inquired, "Why is it that you look so much like that Princess Niltia?"

"Why, the Princess of Ilgerniltia is my great-niece. My sister helped King Ilger found Ilgerniltia, and then married him."

"Well, if Trelnor has his way, you'll soon be his great-aunt-in-law."

A minute later, the Tralmians exited another tree. However, this one was purple, and, instead of being in a forest, it was surrounding by steep purple mountains. Kloimar pointed to a particularly high one, and stated, "On that mountain is the Sacred Peak of which I have spoken."

"Do we actually have to climb that thing?" questioned the Prince's steed.

"Just be glad we didn't have to walk all the way here," said Trelnor optimistically. "Let's start climbing!"

"It'll be easy for you. You'll be riding me."

"No, I'll walk up the mountain."

So the little party from Tralmia began its treacherous climb to the Sacred Peak. There were many obstacles to overcome, but I do not feel like going into great detail right now, so I shall just say that the travellers reached the peak. There, a cloud, made of some steamy substance, took the form of a human female.

"Why have you come to this peak?" asked the wispy woman. "Have you come to gather quintessence, as the Wizard of Oz does?"

"No, madam," answered the Prince. "We would like to go to Olympus, and speak to the gods."

"Very well. Just go through the door."

"What door?"

"Oh, I forgot to make it appear." The lady chanted a few words, and a golden door suddenly materialized. Trelnor knocked on this door, and a man with a face on either side of his head opened the portal, and stepped out.

"I am Janus, the doorkeeper of Olympus," announced the man. "Why have you come here?"

"We want to see your King," replied Kloimar. "His daughter is causing trouble in Oz."

"Which daughter?" questioned Janus. "Oh, never mind. I could never keep track of all his children anyway. Come on in."

The four Tralmians entered the door, and stepped into a beautiful realm. Several palaces were scattered around the Kingdom, but the largest and most beautiful, which was surrounded by a high wall, stood straight ahead from the door.

"That is the palace of Zeus, also known as Jupiter, our great father," stated Janus, as he pointed to the large castle. "Enter through the front gates."

"Thank you," said the Prince.

As the party walked toward Jupiter's immense palace, the dragon observed, "That Janus is two-faced, but he doesn't seem like such a bad sort."

"Most of the gods and goddesses here are often quite nice," stated Kloimar, "but be careful not to offend them, because they can also be extremely vengeful. Your Highness, do you remember the story of Arachne?"

"The woman who challenged Minerva to a weaving contest, and was turned into a spider?" said Trelnor.

"Correct. And that is one of the most minor punishments inflicted by an Olympian. Jupiter himself is very quick to anger, and he has the power of thunder-bolts."

"Well, I'll be careful."

The Prince, the cleric, the horse, and the dragon boldly walked through the gates of the palace, which were open, and up to the front door. When the horse knocked on this door with his right front hoof, it magically opened, allowing the travellers to enter a waiting room. This room, where various periodicals were set on metal tables, did not contain any gods. It did not take the adventurers very long to reach the double-doors of Jupiter's Throne Room. These doors also opened automatically, and the Tralmians stepped into the great Council Hall.

The hall contained twelve thrones, but the two most splendid were those of Jupiter and Juno. Jupiter sat on a black marble throne with seven steps, an eagle sitting on the right arm, and a purple fleece on the seat. Juno's throne was made of ivory. Several lesser deities sat in chairs in the room. A boy served nectar and ambrosia to these gods and goddesses.

"What are you mortals doing in my palace?" demanded Jupiter.

"The backstroke," replied Phlaymer, as he demonstrated this stroke in the air.

"Actually, we are not mortals," said Kloimar, as Trelnor grabbed the dragon. "We are Ozites, and we have come to report the shameful conduct of your daughter. She is threatening our Land."

"Which daughter might this be?" questioned Jupiter.

"Probably not one of mine," stated Juno.

"It was Diana, Your Olympian Majesty," answered Trelnor.

"She's not my daughter. She's the daughter of that Titan."

"Leto, Your Majesty," supplied Kloimar.

"What has she done," asked Jupiter, "and why should it concern me? Even though the Ozites are not mortal, I really have no reason to become involved with Ozian affairs."

"Well, she has joined some men who want to create a magical golden hammer. With this device, they can cause great damage in Oz. Besides, the practice of magic is forbidden in Oz, unless licensed by Queen Ozma."

"I believe you should help these Ozites," stated Themis, a law goddess. "Justice is on their side."

"My duty is to uphold Olympian law, not Ozian law. Why didn't they complain to Ozma?"

"Diana is your daughter, Zeus," stated the dragon, in a rather disrespectful voice. "You should keep her in line."

"How dare you talk to the mighty Zeus in that manner? If you weren't already such a pathetic creature, I would transform you!"

"But he has a point," said Juno. "You should take care of your children."

"But why should I care if my daughter is in the company of Ozian men? They are probably better than those witches and forest creatures with whom she usually spends her time."

"There's also a mole god," stated Phlaymer.

"A mole god? I do not know of any mole god."

"Well, he's not really a god," explained Trelnor. "He's a person who was turned into a mole, and now he's pretending that he's a god."

"I hate it when Earth people pretend to be gods!" shouted Jupiter. "And my daughter is helping this false god? Mercury, where is Diana?"

"Hunting in the Great Gillikin Forest of Oz," replied the messenger god. "She should return tomorrow."

"Well, I shall speak to her then," announced the King. "For now, you Ozites will be my guests in Olympus. Feel free to explore, but stay out of the private quarters of the gods. Sit down, and have some nectar and ambrosia."

Trelnor and Kloimar seated themselves, and a table, laden with the foods of the gods, walked to where the two were seated. As the Ozites partook of the ambrosia and nectar, Jupiter asked, "Do you like our tables? They were designed by Hephaestus, the smith god."

"Very nice, Your Majesty," approved the Prince.

The visitors explored the palace, and the Kingdom of Olympus. They spoke with many gods and goddesses. That night, the Tralmian humans slept in a comfortable spare bedroom of Jupiter's castle, while Phlaymer and the horse spent the night in the stable. The next morning, a large group of deities, as well as the Tralmians, gathered in the Throne Room.

"I remember you," Cupid said to Trelnor. "I hit you with an arrow not too long ago."

"Yes," said Venus. "I believe he fell in love with the Princess of Ilgerniltia. She's a nice girl, and part Wood-Nymph besides. They'll make a good couple."

"Unfortunately, that false King of Keretaria is also in love with the Princess. You see, I shot him several decades ago, thinking that love would be advantageous for him. It did make him somewhat lazier in his evil deeds, but I hear he is now planning something quite terrible. Something about a hammer."

"A golden hammer?" questioned Prince Trelnor.

"Yes, that was it."

"Was this King turned into a mole?"

"Yes. Have you seen him?"

"Indeed I have. He's masquerading as a god, and Diana is helping him."

"And I plan to do something about that," said Jupiter.

"Will we fight?" asked Mars hopefully.

"This will probably not require fighting."

Presently, Diana entered the room. She was equipped with a bow and a quiver of arrows, and she greeted her friends and relatives. When she noticed the frown on Jupiter's face, she asked, "What's wrong, father?"

"I hear that you are helping a false god."

"Yes, I am. As Hecate, I am helping some mole create a magical Golden Hammer."

"I shall not stand for such a thing!"

"Why not?"

"He's a false god, and a lawbreaker besides. I plan to oust him from whatever earthly Kingdom he is tormenting."

"Oh, very well. I'll stop helping him. I don't like spending all that time around men, anyway. It just reminded me of the time I helped Wunchie create the Silver Hammer."

"I've heard of Wunchie," stated Trelnor. "She was a wicked witch who had a lot of power in the Munchkin Country, until she ate jumping beans and exploded."

"She was my friend."

"Why can't you just marry and settle down, instead of spending all of this time with witches?"

"I suppose you want me to be more like you, and have a new lover every week."

Jupiter would have responded to this, but Juno stated, "We must stop this false god before he causes any more trouble."

So the King of Olympus used his powers to appear in front of King Ilgramm's throne. The King of Ilgerniltia was involved in a conference with the High Qui-Questioner, the priest, and the key-keeper. When Jupiter appeared, Ilgramm blinked several times, and then asked, "Who are you?"

"I am Zeus, King of Olympus, and Ruler over many gods."

"Did you send our mole god to us?"

"Your mole god is not a god at all, but an ordinary mole. Actually, he is not even that, but he is a human who was turned into a mole. He ruled a place called Keretaria, until he was driven out of that Kingdom."

"He's lying!" shouted the priest.

The King of Olympus pointed a finger at the priest, and he promptly turned into an ant. Jupiter then gave the priest's companions similar forms, and Ilgramm begged Jupiter to spare him a similar fate.

"I shall spare you, earthly King. Just do not believe the words of any so-called priest who comes here."

"But he was extremely persuasive."

"Of course he was," said the Record-Keeper of Olympus, one of Jupiter's more recent children, as he appeared in the room. "According to my research, he was once known as the Imperial Persuader, and he worked in Keretaria with the High Qui-Questioner and the Lord High Upper Dupper, until they were expelled from the realm by Kerry, the true King."

"Thank you for showing me my errors, oh great Zeus," said the King of Ilgerniltia.

"It was these Ozites who told me of your troubles," stated Jupiter. Prince Trelnor, Phlaymer, Kloimar, and the Tralmian horse suddenly materialized in the Ilgerniltian Throne Room.

"Why, it's the Prince who arrived here two days ago! Well, my boy, you may not have brought me the Jewels of Munchkenny, but you did prove that you are worthy of my daughter. Therefore, if she consents to the marriage, the wedding will occur at once."

When the Princess was consulted, she readily agreed to the marriage, since Cupid had shot her just before she first saw Prince Trelnor. The wedding was a marvelous ceremony, and it was followed by a honeymoon in the Kingdom of Olympus.

The High Qui-Questioner, the Imperial Persuader, and the Lord High Upper Dupper, as well as the former mole god, who was also transformed into an ant by Jupiter, were placed in the Royal Ant Farm of Ilgerniltia. The mole god's temple was converted into a temple of Zeus, and the Ilgerniltians, the Tralmians, and the Olympians remain friends and allies to this very day.





When I decided to write a story about Roman mythology for my Latin class, I used a story beginning that I had written. The story contains many Roman and Greek gods and goddesses, as well as Kerr and his counsellors (from Handy Mandy in Oz). I know some people object to mixing Greek (or Roman) mythology into Oz, but, to be honest, this is one of the most unreliable Oz stories I have recorded. This is the way it was told by the Munchkin minstrels, and their tales have been subject to embellishment in the past. Prince Trelnor was unable to reach for comment on the story, and Kloimar the monk merely stated that "the similarity to actual events can often be less important to mankind than the Story itself, as it is told." Speaking of Kloimar, he has recently been involved in another adventure, this one involving the Hammer Elves, a griffin, and Herby the Medicine Man, but no Greek gods, as far as I know. I hope to relate this story to you in the near future. The working title is "The Golden Hammer."

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