"Hey there, Eddie," the river otter politely replied, and he removed a most mesmerizing object from his satchel as he approached the bar proper. With all the innocent pride of a child who'd just been presented with any sort of award, Darbett Otterman placed the mesmerizing object upon the bar proper, and flipped on the switch so that it glowed. "Ladies and gents, I present to you the lava lamp of Christmas trees." This was no exaggeration, of course. The liquid inside it began to swirl, then silver glitter began to rise and swirl along with it. Lights of many hues reflected randomly upon the flecks of silver glitter, and all present in the Sacred Pub gathered round to savor its magic. Since we don't keep time in our beloved Xanadu Forest, it's difficult to say just how long they were all mesmerized by its light, but it was certainly long enough for poor Cousin Eddie to serve several more flagons of Minute Mead, and shots of Midnight Shimmer. Even a couple for himself, finally.
Now Ninka the baby dragon, of course, had no desire for adult beverages, and wondered whether they had something more suitable for her tastes. Cousin Eddie offered her a Second Soda, to which dear Ninka replied, "But I haven't even had my FIRST soda yet!" All present had a lovely chuckle at that fer sure, and the mesmerizing finally came to an end. The lava-lamp-of-Christmas-trees crew dispersed and began filling their plates with Cowboy Beans and Corn Pudding. Some more than others, of course. Olga the bartender fairy herded them all into an imperfect circle in front of the stage and led them in prayer before anyone took their first bite. Darbett Otterman's Cowboy Beans and Corn Pudding were joyously enjoyed by all, and many holiday pleasantries were exchanged between bites.
Once all their bellies were full, it was time for presents. Everyone gathered around baby dragon Dear Ninka, who had by now sat down at a tall round table, with a large velvet sack in each talon. "Now here's the rules:" baby dragon began, "Each person is to grab one item from each of the velvet sacks. No feeling around for a good one...you just reach in and grab one without looking. You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit! Got it?" All present acknowledged affirmatively, so baby dragon Ninka went on, "The sack in my left talon is presents from KeV, and the sack in my right talon are presents from me. Spoiler alert, all the presents from me are plushies. It's kinda my thing, you know. But you just get what you get and don't throw a fit, right? No feeling around for a good one." Everyone nodded sort of patronizingly, then began selecting their presents from the velvet sacks. When Dear Caesar Emeritus, the baloo-eyed Akita approached her, baby dragon Ninka stopped him. "No offense, dear Caesar, but KeV gave me very specific instructions that you were not to select a present from KeV's velvet sack. He has a very nice reason for it, trust me. But you can still pick out a plushie from MY velvet sack." Dear Caesar Emeritus, of course, was quite fine with this, and graciously retrieved a purple kitten plushie from Ninka's velvet sack. ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee888888888888b444444444444444444444r [My cat Kaylee added that nonsense part while I left my desk to go pee. I was going to delete it, but then decided maybe I should leave her contribution to the stories, since she doesn't get many chances to contribute]
Once everyone had received their presents from KeV and Ninka, Olga the bartender fairy, Eivanqua the lion cub, and Princess Calliope disappeared to a secret secret room to retrieve air mattresses that would soon be inflated and placed round the stage for the presentation. There were four of them. Davidicus Raz and Shelellabee had brought their own papasan chair built for two, since they were now happily and officially betrothed. Everyone was pleased with the presents they had received from the velvet sacks. Cousin Eddie the Raven began to complain a little bit about the plushie worm he got from Ninka's sack, but baby dragon Ninka gave a look, and he simply thanked her. And gave said plushie worm a sarcastic hug and kiss. And wandered off to pour himself another flagon of Minute Mead. And one for the Princess.
Olga the bartender fairy gathered everyone's attention once again, now that all the air mattresses were inflated, and spoke, "Everyone partner up and fluff up your blankets and pillows. And have Cousin Eddie get you any drinks you might need. It's time for tonight's feature presentation." Princess Calliope pulled down the projection screen so that it covered the stage. Everyone else did as Olga instructed: air mattresses were chosen, all soft things were fluffed, and the fog of peaceful enthusiasm filled the Sacred Pub air. Princess Calliope, of course, fell playfully onto the air mattress with Cousin Eddie the Raven. Like children, they were, fer sure, as they all got cozy and nestled with their respective plushies.
Baby dragon Ninka retrieved the remote, the projector's light projected upon the screen, and baby dragon sat down at her tall round table behind the imperfect semicircle of air mattresses and papasans built for two. "I know some of you were hoping for the new Disney movie, and I know some of you wanted the new Wonder Woman movie. We might get to them later, but right now we have a special Christmas presentation from KeV. Now, I haven't seen this presentation, I wasn't there when KeV made it. But I've gotten to know KeV pretty well, and I'm sure it's going to be a most absurd but entertaining disaster. But also very confusing to you guys. He's had a lot of adventures in the Vaun, especially on Halfway Island. So just let me know if you need me to pause or rewind or whatever, and I'll try to explain stuff the best I can since I'm the only one here that's spent time with KeV inside the magic castle of Halfway Island. And before you ask...yes, KeV specifically instructed me to give you this disclaimer before starting the presentation. You guys ready?" All present were much more than ready fer sure.
The presentation begins...
"Hey guys! This is KeV coming to you live from the magic castle on Halfway Island in the Vaun."
'"Pause!" Darbett Otterman shouted from his air mattress, and squeezed his rainbow trout plushie.
"Yes, Darbett?" Ninka acknowledged, and paused the presentation.
"It's not actually live. He recorded this earlier," the river otter politely replied.
"You don't keep time in the Xanadu Forest," Ninka semi-snipped back. "But your objection is noted. Can we please just try to enjoy?" A sheepish "Sorry," was heard from the air mattress on the far left, and the presentation resumed.
"...Since I'm going to be working remotely and--"
"Pardon me, my dear Ninka, but pause!" Dear Caesar Emeritus, the baloo-eyed Akita spoke from his air mattress next to Davidicus Raz and Shelellabee's papasan built for two.
"Yes, Dear Caesar?" baby dragon Ninka sighed. And she paused the presentation.
"Well," Dear Caesar explained, "I've gotten to know KeV very well, too, and I must say that it's quite impossible for him to be working remotely since he never actually works. I'm sorry to interrupt, but I felt it was important to--"
"Objection noted," dear Ninka replied, and continued, "That's actually a great point, dear Caesar. I'm going to suggest we just pretend that he says 'SLACKING remotely,' if that works for you guys? And if he happens to say something about 'distance learning,' we'll take it as 'distance DRINKING?'" All present agreed in their own ways from upon their soft places, and squeezed their plushies. "Also, if it's okay with you guys, let me just say: This is KeV...we all know him pretty well here. He's going to be saying things we could correct for the record in every sentence, knowing him. If we keep pausing the presentation to correct him, we're never going to get to the movies we actually want to see. Okay?" The agreement was unanimous. And so the presentation continued...
"...distance learning for both the foreseeable and UNforeseeable future, I thought it best to send you this special Christmas presentation via Dear Ninka, the baby dragon...whom I'm guessing you've met by now. Otherwise you won't be seeing this, haha! But I totally trust her to deliver you this special holiday message. [KeV steps out of the screen briefly, and the camera turns to focus on a wonderful fire burning inside a fireplace built of pure jade] KeV returns to the camera's view and continues, "So, Merry Christmas, fabulousnesses! I hope you all like your presents from the Vaun. Anyhoo, a lot has happened since I found myselves on Halfway Island--and I DO mean myselVES. This is all very exciting, and I have so much to--"
"Pause!" Cousin Eddie the Raven shouted from the comfort of the second air mattress from the right.
Baby dragon Ninka paused the presentation, of course. "Yes, Cousin Eddie?" She asked. "And, by the way, I'll take my second Second Soda now, if you don't mind?"
"Of course, Ninka!" the Raven sarcastically replied, tossed his blanket aside, jumped up--plushie worm in wing--saluted, and made his way behind the bar proper. As he poured dear Ninka her second flagon of Second Soda, he spoke, "Rewind a little bit, Ninka. I thought I saw a KeV in a dress and oven mitts carrying a casserole...walking behind KeV as he was speaking."
"Good eye, Cousin Eddie!" baby dragon replied to the Raven, and thanked him for the second Second Soda. She rewinded the presentation a couple more times and paused it again to make sure everyone spotted the mysterious KeV behind the presenting KeV. "That is KeVaunVaun," baby dragon explained. "It's the second KeV that KeV manifested of himself. She's actually become my favorite KeV."
"SHE?!!" the Sacred Pub Christmas patrons gasped in unison.
Ninka explained further, "Well, it's KeV you know, so of course he's a HE...but for whatever reason, KeVaunVaun likes to wear dresses and is quite the nurturer and homemaker. I just sorta think of KeVaunVaun as a HER. KeV, of course, could care less either way."
Chapter 53c, Part III coming soon. Thank you for joining me on this crazy journey.
I love you,