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Meanwhile, In Udrogoth

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Our heroes were contemplating the traditional problems of the Yule season -- what gifts to give to their loved ones; what gifts their loved ones were planning to give to them; how to maximize the number of gifts they would receive; and, in Dave's case, how to ensure the maximum amount of cheese toast at the traditional Yule feast -- when the castle doors burst open and Mrs. Bogmelon raced in, waving a weasel.

"Bears!" she shouted. "Bears wearing hats and scarves! Yule bears! Invading! Buy this bear repellent now!"

"That's a weasel," Fang pointed out.

"It's a bear-repellin' weasel. Half price for the royal family. Special offer, limited time only."

Candy and Dave had already gone to the door to check the situation out, and sure enough they could see bears making their way through the village.

"Aw!" Dave said. "Look at their adorable mittens. You didn't mention the adorable mittens!"

"Those scarves are so last season, though," Candy said. "I mean, really, paisley? What's wrong with a nice solid color, like Yule blue? Or pink?"

"Of course! That must be why the bears are invading Udrogoth -- they need new scarves! Candy, do you know what this means?"

Candy clapped her hands with delight. "Time for shopping!"

"No!" Dave said, and pulled out his always-handy crafts bag. "Time for knitting!"

"I really think shopping for new scarves would be faster. And way more fun."

"Candy! Where is your Yule spirit? Homemade gifts are the best and most festive part of the season!"

"Um, no," Candy said. "Did you make your gift for me? Please go to the mall and get me some nice jewelry. Gold. Made by professionals."

"You're missing the point!" Dave insisted. "By making scarves for these poor fashion-challenged bears, we show them how much we care, and we prove that we are willing to open our homes and our hearts to them at this, the most magical time of year, and we -- "

"You better give in," Oswidge told Candy, "Or he's never going to shut up."

"Let's knit some scarves!"

*

"This is boring," Fang said, one-fifth of her way into a scarf and twenty dropped stitches later. "Can't we blow up the bears instead?"

"No," Dave said. He'd already completed five scarves in varying shades of eye-searingly ugly. "We're extending the hand of friendship."

"Is it a disembodied hand?" Lula asked. "Can I cut it off someone? Let's get some action in this story!"

Candy had long since lost interest in pretending to participate in the knitting project and was now painting her nails. "We could always go back to my original plan. You know, buying the stupid scarves."

"If we're not doing my plan, I vote for Candy's," Fang said, and then, "Wow, I never thought I'd hear myself say that."

Dave waved his knitting needles in the air. "C'mon, guys! We're doing this for the bears!"

"Does it look like anyone cares?" Candy demanded. "And have you realized that while we're sitting here attempting to knit ugly scarves for bears that probably need not-ugly scarves, they're still destroying the village?"

Dave paused. Then he said, "I guess that didn't occur to me."

Fang broke her knitting needles in half and jumped to her feet. "Let's go slay some bears!"

"Or just buy them scarves!"

"Whatever."

*

The royal family made it to the mall in record time, but were quickly confronted with a problem.

"We're all out," the last merchant told them, closing his shop up. "Come on, it's the night before Yule. My whole supply of winter scarves has been bought out. Everyone's supply of winter scarves has been bought out. Where have you been?"

"Knitting," Lula spat out, glaring at Dave as best as she could from the scabbard on his back.

"But we need scarves now!" Dave protested.

"Can't help you. I'm going home before the bears reach the mall. Hey, did you know there are bears raiding the town?"

Candy rolled her eyes. "Who bought the last of your scarves?"

"It was -- "

"It was I!" a high-pitched voice trilled -- there was no other word for it -- from behind them, sounding strangely distorted. "The Dark Lord Chuckles, the Silly Piggy!"

With identical annoyed sighs, Dave and his sisters turned to face their nemesis.

Chuckles was bundled up in a heavy sweater, tiny ski pants, snow boots, a beanie pulled down over his little piggy ears, and a scarf wrapped around his face muffler-style. Which at least explained the distorted voice.

"Oh," Fang said unenthusiastically. "It's you."

"Yes!" Chuckles shouted. "It is I! The Dark Lord -- "

"Yeah, yeah, we know who you are, you just said it."

"I have bought out all the winter clothing from here to Hyrogoth! It's all mine and you can't have any of it! Nyah!"

"What a fiendish plot!" Dave exclaimed. "You've cleverly purchased all of this season's scarves to prevent the bears from getting any, thus inciting them to rampage through Udrogoth, destroying property in their anger at being out of fashion!"

"Yes! I -- what? No," Chuckles said. "I just bought it all so that I can be warm this winter and everyone else must be cold! Ha ha ha! Do you know how unpleasant it is to be a small pig in the middle of winter? Do you? You will now! Err . . . what bears?"

"Those bears," Candy said, pointing out at a few bears who were getting close to the mall.

Chuckles squinted at them and then frowned. "Wow, those scarves are hideous."

"I know, right? That's why we were trying to get them new ones. I mean, those scarves are, like, a crime against fashion."

"I suppose I could spare a few scarves. Just to spare my little piggy eyes from those monstrosities."

"It's a deal!"

*

The Yule bears were delighted with their new scarves, which went perfectly with their adorable mittens and hats, and exited Udrogoth with no more fuss.

"Well, that's it!" Dave said, watching them go. "I knew my plan would work."

"It was my plan," Candy said.

"That's beside the point. Now that the bears have new scarves, they can go back into hibernation, and we can go back to our Yule preparations! I'm going to bake the most wonderful apple pie, with a smoky Gruyère thyme crust -- "

"Ooh," Chuckles said, "Well, that sounds delightful," and they all paused and turned to look at him, having forgotten that he was there.

"Chuckles," Dave said, after the awkward silence had stretched a second or so too long, "Would you like to join us for a traditional Yule feast?"

"Dave!" Fang yelped. "He's evil! He's our nemesis! You can't invite him to Yule dinner!"

"Well, it would be rude not to, after he helped us with the bears and all."

"I would love to join you," Chuckles said with a haughty look at Fang that didn't quite work because, first of all, pigs weren't known for their ability to make haughty expressions, and, second of all, Fang didn't know what 'haughty' meant. "In fact, I'll bring a traditional fruitcake!"

This got less than enthusiastic answering mutters, as the traditional response to the traditional fruitcake.

"Great!" Chuckles said. "See you then!"

They watched him leave. Then Candy said, "This is going to be the most awkward Yule feast ever."

Dave sighed. "I have so much baking to do."

"I hope he at least brings presents," Fang said. "Wait, we don't have to get him presents, do we?"

*

It was a tremendously awkward Yule feast, but at least the food was good, aside from the fruitcake. The King and Queen even called on the crystal ball to wish their kids a happy Yule, although regrettably the vanquishing-evil thing was going to keep them away from home for at least another year. "Maybe next year!" the Queen chirped before ending the call.

Chuckles attempted to steal the royal crown and reprogram the throne, but they'd been expecting that and he gave up without too much of a fight. Plus, he'd brought presents, so they couldn't be too mad.

Even Candy had to admit that in the end it was more of a success than a failure. "I mean, we got rid of the bears and whatever, and I got this diamond bracelet, and we got the kingdom through, like, a whole year safely, so whatever."

"Yeah," Fang said, "And I got to eat all the cheese toast while Dave wasn't looking!"

"What?" Dave cried. "There's no more cheese toast?"

"Sorry. I'm not sorry."

"Bejabbers!"

Happy Yule, Udrogoth.

"You too, Narrator!"