CAST:Before we return to our irregularly-scheduled story, here is a quick summary of what is happening in the NeS - the Never-ending Story thread - for the new and old alike.
Not long ago, the protagonists of the NeS battled against the absurdly powerful-and-apathetic wizard, JM, and his Dark Alliance of villains for the fate of the story-world itself. They held out just long enough for the wizard to lose interest and forfeit his nihilistic scheme, only for a far more driven villain, named Knowsoul, to set forth on his own plot to end the Never-ending Story. Our would-be-heroes now give chase to Knowsoul, back down the seductively-nostalgic Memory Lane, before he can reach the story's source and consume the very soul of the Never-ending Story...
-Knowsoul: Once two powerful forces of their own - the Legion-like spectre known as the Darkside and a Grim Reaper-esque construct known as Tsolo, the Avatar of Loss - have now become a soul-devouring amalgamation. Their singular desire now is to consume the forgotten spirit of the NeS itself, bringing an end to the never-ending story-world.
Losien Simon: She is now the main character and leader of the NeS would-be-heroes, a role which she is just now becoming accustomed to acting in confidence. Extremely beautiful yet severely lacking in self-esteem. By the tropes that are natural law in the story-world of the NeS, all hope of success relies on her.
Gebohq Simon: Losien's brother, Geb was till recently the main character of the NeS. He is something of a coward and misfit, yet this overlies a core of bravery and the desire to do the right and loving thing. He has made a Hell-bound bargain hinging on his success in personally having a heroic hand in thwarting Knowsoul, with success resulting in the release of his friends' souls and failure resulting in the loss of his own.
Al Ciao: A former powerplayer who struggles now with his imposed role as ruler of Hell. Normally, by turns, zany and melodramatic, Al now faces a dilemma: help his friends save existence once more or embrace his selfish power and antagonize all who would stand in his way. If nothing else, his Hell-bound bargain with Gebohq complicates matters.
The Last True Evil: Destined as the Ultimate Villain of the NeS, the former Soviet spy seems to be flying in the face of fate. Now Losien's fiancee and father-figure to Amal, TLTE fights for the possibly-futile hope of his redemption. Resourceful and a Romantic in his own harsh way.
Rachel Pi: Incarnation of April Fools and a servant of the NeS, Rachel is both fated as Geb's true love and keeper of conflict within the NeS. They are currently estranged, however, with Geb denying his love for the sake of the story and herself required to cause conflict when there is none. Of course, now that Geb is no longer main character, things may change...
Amal: Once "raised" in solitude by Master Thand, Amal had only the company of books provided by Thand until found and adopted by TLTE. Since then, Amal has quickly grown up into a wise and discerning young man under TLTE's tutelage, promising to become a hero the likes of which would surpass Losien and Gebohq. Amal aims to do all he can for his new caretakers, Losien and TLTE, as well as keep an eye on the likes of Master Thand and Al Ciao.
Young of NeS: "Born" a Blank Character from a wide cast of NeS protagonists and the NeS itself, she was fostered with the intention of freeing the characters of NeS from the reign of its Writers. Now nearly ready to give birth to her own child that she conceived with Gebohq's evil doppleganger, Young accompanies the group of would-be-heroes, as her own blood runs through the once-Tsolo Knowsoul, and she is necessary to counter Knowsoul's power. Young is pacifistic, sensitive to her surroundings, gifted, and generally how one would imagine a princess expecting with child to act.
Master Thand: An sagely scholar, Thand is secretly the First Man of the NeS mythology. Unparalleled in his wisdom and knowledge, he is both aloof and altrustic. His agenda is mysterious, having both helped and hindered the would-be-heroes in the past. His current goal is to ensure that Knowsoul does not succeed and to study the problematic protagonists.
And now, before stepping back to our irregularly-scheduled story, an interlude into the realm where the story itself could be seen to be written by self-serving, delusional people. A sort of creative "non-fiction" aspect of the Never-ending Story, if you will.
In the Writers' Realm...
Gebohq the Writer: Look I know he's in here somewhere.
Al Ciao the Writer: I thought he said he was going to China?
Gebohq the Writer: He also said he lived in the UK.
Al Ciao: So where is he?
Gebohq: Let's try his office.
Liberius Vir the Writer: Wait, he has an office!?
Cool Matty the Writer: I don't even have an office!
Liberius: I want an office too!
Cool Matty: And me!
Gebohq: None left.
Cool Matty: I vaguely remember this being some kind of office block we're all in at some point in the past.
Cool Matty: Office block equals lots of offices, right?
Gebohq: They're all in use.
Cool Matty: All of them? With what?
Gebohq: Just stuff.
Cool Matty: ...
Gebohq: Okay fine. They're full of trash.
Cool Matty: Why!?
Gebohq: Since Janitor Bob the Writer left we've had no one to clean up after us and even though we bullied Tracer the Writer into doing it, he was never very good at cleaning...
Gebohq: Don't give me that frowny-face! Not like you're cleaning up, is it?
Al Ciao: Shall we just get this over with? We can discuss cleaning policy later.
Cool Matty: Liberius is new, right? We should bully him into doing it.
Liberius: Moving on!
The shockingly small band of current writers marches through the office space, past the corpses of several former writers that died at their desks. Finally Gebohq stops at an office door that's covered in dust and grime.
Cool Matty: Uh, this is one of those trash-offices, right?
Gebohq: Nope. This is his office. The grime is what's put me off venturing in there for all these months. But now I've got you guys for backup.
Gebohq turns to find the other three writers had taken a step backwards in unison. Gebohq's face darkens.
Gebohq: C'mon guys! Else I'll retract your doughnut privileges.
They exchange nervous glances at each other, hoping someone else will give in first.
Gebohq: I'll also revoke shower privileges.
Al Ciao: That's okay, none of us shower anyway.
Liberius: Okay, enough with the smilies already.
Gebohq: Just get in there, you bunch of pansies!
Liberius: Says the guy who's dragging us with him.
Gebohq kicks the door open.
Liberius: Something wrong with using the door handle?
Gebohq: I didn't want to touch it. You know, just in case?
Beyond the doorway is a mass amount of foliage. Huge, exotic leaves droop over the door frame and the soil is soft underfoot as the four curious writers venture inside. Al Ciao yells as a huge snake slithers up a tree close to him. Liberius cries out as a man-eating plant snaps at him. Cool Matty screams like a girl when a gigantic spider scurries away through the dead leaves on the ground. Gebohq faints when a rabbit hops by.
Britt the Writer: Halt! Who goes there!?
Al Ciao: Uh, friend!
Britt swings down from the jungle canopy via a long vine. He's wearing stereotypical British-African hunter garb, complete with pith helmet and a rifle aimed at his fellow writers.
Britt: Who're you lot?
Al Ciao: Writers of the NeS. Remember? You are too? You wrote Soriel and that sword that wanted to have sex with all of the women characters.
Cool Matty: You know, when you say it like that I'm not sure we want him back...
Al Ciao: Gebohq will take anything we can get.
Al Ciao nudges the unconscious Gebohq with the toe of his boot to no avail. Cool Matty gives him a swift kick which brought their lead writer back. Liberius gave him a kick too. Al Ciao and Cool Matty stare at Liberius.
Liberius: It was for the smell.
Al Ciao and Cool Matty: ...
Liberius: Pirates of the Caribbean? No?
Gebohq struggles to his feet and begins to plead with Britt despite his own physical pain, desperation pushing him through his own usual nonchalance.
Gebohq: Britt, we need you back!
Cool Matty: I think need is a bit strong.
Britt: I can't. I'm in China.
Britt stares wide-eyed off into the distance. Britt's nervous twitching but everyone on edge and they started to look about as nervously as Britt already was.
Gebohq: You're in the Writers' Offices.
Gebohq: Are there even jungles in China?
Britt: No idea...
Gebohq: We're in a jungle!
Al Ciao: A jungle in your office, I hasten to add.
Britt: I'm reading.
Gebohq: Reading what?
Cool Matty: Stephen King?
Britt: No. The NeS.
The writers' stare at Britt in stunned silence.
Cool Matty: Are you crazy?
Cool Matty: Don't bother answering that...
Britt pulls out an old-looking tome and opens the book on a random page. The very paper glows brightly of golden light. Gebohq leans over to take a look at the page.
Gebohq: Hey, I remember this page. It's page 18 of NeS Squared. Where the whole Tsolo stuff starts.
Liberius: Wait. Why is there a tome anyway? I thought we wrote it all on computers?
Al Ciao: Why is it glowing?
Cool Matty: And wasn't there some really old storyline where Kirby had pages of the NeS and shattered them everywhere... or something? How is it there?
Gebohq: Look. None of that matters. Just... hurry up and finish your... expedition in China. Or reading the NeS. Or whatever the Hell is going on in here.
Liberius: Yeah and you can get to work cleaning the offices, you lout!
Everyone stares at Liberius with scorn. Even Britt seems to gather himself for the moment.
Gebohq: Nice try.
The current writers all leave the jungle-office and stand in the corridor for a moment in silent contemplation. Inside there is an almighty glow as Britt resumes his reading.
Al Ciao: Does anyone remember where we left Soriel and Fred the Sword in the story?
Cool Matty: I don't think I even remember them being in it...