This particular Christmas Eve in the Sacred Garden started out particularly quiet. As we begin this chapter, we find Cousin Eddie the Raven and Princess Calliope nestled upon the futon inside the Treehouse of the Holy, draped in a sea of extra soft blankets and princess pillows. Playing on the television, of course, was the Magnum P.I. Christmas special...for the fourth time, consecutively. They wondered whether the ending of the episode could happen to change if only they played the DVD enough times.
Then, suddenly the silence of Christmas Eve became not so silent anymore. "Eddie!" Princess Calliope shouted, and punched the poor unsuspecting bird in the wing. "Mind your manners...you're in the presence of royalty, you know!"
Cousin Eddie replied, genuinely unsuspecting, "What?! Everyone knows ravens don't fart!"
"Well, everyone knows princesses don't fart," Calliope replied, "so it seems a mystery has fallen into our futon. Be a dear now and pass me another beer, would you?"
"indubitably," Cousin Eddie answered, and tossed her another can of beer. And he cracked one open for himself, of course. "What do you suppose Magnum would do?" he asked after some thought.
To which the Princess responded, "Well, I suppose he would begin by rifling through this pile of soft things upon the futon and find the source of the vibration."
"Yes! That's exactly what he'd do!" Eddie replied excitedly. And added, "And he'd surely find a rubber chicken in there somewhere...and possibly a golden football helmet." After much futon rifling, however, Raven and Princess found no such items. Instead, they found, tucked deeply into the corner of the left side of the futon--among the crumbs and beer and ice cream drippings--KeV's most precious Dragon's Eye...which Cousin Eddie had forgotten he had misplaced.
The purple metallic orb continued to pulse its purple light and vibrate until Eddie picked it up and held it up so that Calliope could see it too. Then the vibration stopped, and they could see the image of an agitated halfling inside it. "SOME keeper of powerful and rare antiquities you are, you silly bird!" the halfling spoke from within the Dragon's Eye. "Did you have this treasure carelessly tucked into a futon full of crumbs and beer and ice cream drippings?! Truly shameful!"
Cousin Eddie replied sheepishly to the orb, "Um, ohh...heyyy, good KIng Midas LeBottom of Flatlandia! Sorry about that. I meant no disrespect. I just thought it'd be safe in the Treehouse of the Holy, you know. And it IS safe, see?" Cousin Eddie then held the orb high in the air to show King Midas how safe it was, apparently forgetting that the good King was actually inside it, and not looking at the orb itself. Princess Calliope punched the Raven in the wing to emphasize his foolishness, but she said nothing.
King Midas LeBottom replied, "I'll bet a dozen flagons of the finest ale that you not only forgot where the Dragon's Eye was, but forgot even that you had misplaced it!"
To which Cousin Eddie replied, "Well, would you settle for canned beer from Mitzy the Arctic Fox? It's all I've got."
"It's a deal," good King Midas replied, and added, "As long as you throw in a good cleaning every now and again. It really IS shameful to have such a treasure covered in crumbs and beer and ice cream drippings." Cousin Eddie agreed, and Princess Calliope assured King Midas LeBottom that she'd hold the silly bird to it. The good King thanked Calliope for that, then continued, "Enough of this nonsense, anyway. I have a special mission for you two. A Christmas mission." King Midas had Eddie and Calliope's undivided attention, fer sure, at such a fantastic statement, and so he went on, "You must gather your pajamas, blankets, and pillows, and head straightway to the Library Tree. But--and this is a very important part of the mission--you are NOT to stay there and dawdle! You are simply there to retrieve dear Caesar Emeritus, the baloo-eyed Akita--and his pajamas and blankets and pillows, if he has any--and proceed directly to the secret secret entrance of the Sacred Pub. NOT the secret entrance, mind you--and this is important...the secret SECRET entrance!" Princess Calliope squared her shoulders and nodded most firm and knowingly into the Dragon's Eye. Cousin Eddie, by way of contrast, shrugged his shoulders and furrowed what would have been his brows, had birds been designed with such brows.
Then Cousin Eddie's brain finally processed the fact that Princess Calliope seemed to acknowledge the existence of said secret secret entrance: "Wait!," the Raven exclaimed, "I know about the secret entrance, but I've never heard of a secret SECRET entrance before." Turning toward Calliope, he asked, "How do you know about it, doll?"
Princess Calliope winked and nodded, then kissed the Raven upon the forehead as she answered, "My dear Eddie, we princesses learn from a very young age to NOT tell the boys EVERYthing." Cousin Eddie shrugged his shoulders again, handed the Dragon's Eye to Calliope for safekeeping, then grabbed his backpack. And off they were to the Library Tree, about a dozen flagon tosses' walk from the Sacred Garden's gate.
The retrieval of dear Ceasar Emeritus, the baloo-eyed Akita went off without a hitch, aside from the fact that he had no blankets, pillows, or pajamas. Princess Calliope suggested that if he were to wear his silver cape instead of his typical gold one, that it could count as pajamas. The trio unanimously agreed, and off they were to the secret secret entrance of the Sacred Pub. Princess Calliope led the way, of course, and she and good King Midas LeBottom continued pleasant conversation all along the way via the Dragon's Eye. Dear Caesar Emeritus politely declined a can of beer from Cousin Eddie's backpack, and spoke at length about his latest translations of the ancient Xanaduvian Dead Tree scrolls. Cousin Eddie, for his part, did a fantastic job of pretending he was interested in the translations while he chugged down a couple more cans of backpack beer.
Almost before they seemingly realized it, the trio had made their way through the final web of secret secret brush and, finally, to the secret secret door of the Sacred Pub. Princess Calliope ended her conversation with good King Midas LeBottom finally, and tucked the Dragon's Eye safely into her gown's secret secret pocket for safekeeping. The Princess knocked upon the door three times, then paused, knocked twice, then paused once more, and knocked only once. A small rectangular panel upon the secret secret door slid open. Nothing could be seen, but an unknown voice was heard. "Password?" it simply asked.
Princess Calliope whispered her reply, "Purple is the color of midnight."
After a brief pause, the sound of multiple locks were heard being undone, and the secret secret door of the Sacred Pub opened. Before the curious trio, now stood a dragon--a baby dragon. A dragon none of them had ever seen before. "Hi guys!" the baby dragon greeted them. "Follow me. Olga has been waiting on you guys." As the baby dragon led them through mysterious tunnels, hallways, and sets of stairs of varying width and height, she finally explained, "I'm Ninka, by the way. I'm from the magic castle of Halfway Island. KeV sent me here to make sure you guys have a Merry Christmas. You're not exactly the three wise men now, are you?" Ninka finally asked, then chuckled, and she finally led them into hallways that Cousin Eddie and dear Caesar were familiar with.
By the time they all had made their way to the bar proper, Princess Calliope was already chatting with Olga the bartender fairy, and cradling a precious lion's cub in her gentle princess arms. "Eivanqua, you say his name is?" the princess was heard asking Olga, and she kissed his paw and scratched his belly so tenderly. Eivanqua the lion cub purred and nuzzled his way into the ruffles of Calliope's princess pajama gown.
Olga smiled, and welcomed the others that had just arrived...AND the two stragglers from the trio that was NOT the three wise men. Now present in the bar proper, besides Olga, Eivanqua, Calliope, and Ninka were Cousin Eddie, dear Ceasear Emeritus, the baloo-eyed Akita, Ebahrhisabee, Graaseshabee, Kagraasabee, Shelellabee, Davidicus Raz, and Skolka. Darbett Otterman was running late, but would soon arrive with his Cowboy Beans and Corn Pudding. And the most mesmerizing lava lamp of Christmas trees. Lots of hugs and 'Merry Christmases' were given out, and much merriment ensued.
Shelellabee and Davidicus Raz, it turns out, were now officially engaged, and they were also now engaged in picking perfect Sacred Pub Christmas songs on the jukebox. Cousin Eddie pulled up a stool at the bar and mustered the courage to ask Olga if he was allowed to have a Minute Mead. To which Olga asked, "I don't know. Did you bring your remote control patrol jeep with you?"
"No, Olga, it is safely at home in my little beer can garage," Cousin Eddie answered proudly. "And by the way, Olga, have I ever told you how beautiful you are?"
"Only when you're drunk," Olga most succinctly replied.
"Well," the Raven continued, "have I ever told you how beautiful beautiful you are?"
To which Olga the bartender fairy replied, "Only when you're VERY drunk."
To which Cousin Eddie the Raven replied, "Well, this time I'm saying it before. Merry Christmas Olga."
"Merry Christmas, Eddie," the bartender fairy said. Then she flew across and over the bar, and landed on the stool next to him. "I'll tell you what, silly bird: you can have all the flagons of Minute Mead you want this holiday...and even shots of Midnight Shimmer if you'd like...as long as you get me MY flagons and shots for the holiday. And everyone else's. I'm taking the moon-greeting off."
Cousin Eddie was truly elated, but also hesitant, "So you're saying I can go behind the bar? This feels like a trap."
Olga smiled, and asked him, "Eddie, have I ever told you that you're smarter than you seem?"
"Only when I'm drunk," the Raven replied.
"Well, have I ever told you that you're a pussy?" Olga asked.
"Only when I'm VERY drunk," Cousin Eddie answered.
"Well, this time I'm saying it before! Merry Christmas, Eddie," Olga the bartender fairy toasted, and raised her flagon into the sky. The entire bar proper erupted into laughter, and Cousin Eddie found himself quite busy serving quite some number of drinks to all present. So busy, in fact, that the poor Raven hadn't even gotten around to pouring a flagon of Minute Mead for himself yet. Merry Christmas indeed!