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A Vested Development

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Djimbo! You gotta help me!”

Djimmi the Great possessed near infinite wisdom, and yet remembering to clown-proof his tent before a spot of mid-afternoon meditation somehow still slipped his mind.

Alright, how may I be of service?” he asked as Beppi burst through the beaded curtains in typically understated fashion. “Rollercoaster busted? Did that elephant fly away again?”

Worse! Much worse!” Beppi hopped from one leg to the other as if his feet were on fire, eyes darting wildly about the room. “No time to explain - can you make me disappear?”

What?” Djimmi frowned, taking in his frazzled friend’s pleading puppy eyes - unusually, he sensed, he wasn’t joking. “I - could , but it’s inadvisable for mortals. I couldn't guarantee when you’d return, and I’ll need to concentrate…”

"Nonono, no time for that! Just hide me!”

With no further warning, Beppi launched himself into Djimmi’s arms and - before he could object - wriggled right under his vest and around to his back. The fellow never did have much concept of personal space, but this was a new trick.

All became clear, however, when barely a second later one Baroness Von Bon Bon barrelled in, candy cane in hand and fire blazing in her eyes.

Where is he?!”

Baroness!” Djimmi bowed, flashing her his broadest, most welcoming grin - one hopefully enough to distract from any suspicious lumps shifting about his person. “Ah - who might you be searching for…?”

Who? Who?!Bon Bon spluttered, clenching her hands around her candy cane as if imagining it was Beppi’s neck. “Who else could it - the harlequin hoodlum who let his blasted trampoline make off with my prized cake display, that’s who!

Oh, I see…!Djimmi stifled an embarrassing squeak when Beppi grabbed at his side, struggling not to squirm as fingers skittered across his back, digging in and clinging onto their cover for dear life. For an almost all-powerful being, he may have had the slight misfortune of being ticklish. “No - no Beppi around here, I’m afraid. Might there be anything else I can assist you with?”

Bon Bon pursed her lips, pin-sharp eyes narrowing as she glanced him up and down. Then - much more dangerously - she smiled.

Yes, there just might be, actually. Take off your vest.”

She was onto them. Djimmi’s eyes bugged in surprise that was only half-feigned, thanks to Beppi’s attempts to burrow into his armpit.

Excuse me, Baroness…?”

Oh, come now - modesty doesn’t suit the great Djimmi,” she purred, fluttering her eyelashes in a way that somehow managed to be both flirtatious and threatening. “Besides, that ensemble hardly leaves much to the imagination as it is. Why not make yourself a little more comfortable?”

Djimmi let out a shaky chuckle, clearing his throat; he could feel Beppi trembling, making it increasingly difficult to maintain his composure. “That’s...thoughtful of you, Baroness, but I’m quite comfortable as it -“

Evidently tiring of her sweet charade, Bon Bon lifted her candy cane, hooked it in Djimmi’s sleeve and tugged without mercy. Beppi tumbled out with a squeak and a thump, before shuffling to his feet, slowly raising both arms with a sheepish grin.

Heyyy, Bonnie - I can explain, heh, funny story...“

I’ll ‘Bonnie’ you!

She lunged, wielding her weapon like a formidable swordswoman as Beppi scrambled for safety, the pair soon descending into a flurry of flailing limbs and colourful chaos.

Bonnie, Bonnie, c’mon, this isn’t a fair fight!” he protested, while ducking and dodging candied parries. “If I knew you were coming, I’d have at least brought a pie -“

"Seven hours that took me! Every swirl was perfect! And all for nothing because you couldn't keep your nincompoopery in check -"

Baroness! Beppi!” Djimmi interrupted in his most commanding tone, spreading his arms placatingly in an effort to defuse the situation, though they paid him as much heed as a typical pair of squabbling children. “I’m sure we can settle this like the reasonable adults we all are - or if not, at least somewhere with slightly fewer priceless artifacts…”

Barely had the words left his mouth as Bon Bon’s cane went hurtling through the air; Beppi darted behind Djimmi so that it bounced off his shoulder and collided with the large sarcophagus in the corner of the room. His heart sinking, Djimmi grabbed for it, but even his magic wasn’t fast enough. The assortment of pots and vases that lined his tent toppled, one by one, into each other until they hit the floor, splitting into shards and - in one case - a litter of curious kittens.

Well, that was certainly one way to distract them, he supposed, as several took an immediate interest in the cone atop Bon Bon’s head.

No! Shoo! Get off!” she shrieked, batting at them as they pawed around her legs, trying to climb up her dress. “This is Inkwell’s very finest lace!”

Whoopsie, did someone let the cat outta the bag?” Beppi giggled, smug now he'd managed to shimmy up to the safety of Djimmi’s shoulder, and tipped his hat. “Well, ladles and jellyspoons - it’s been a blast, but it’s high time for me to blow this joint.”

He stuck his thumb in his mouth and blew, inflating his head until it rose to the peak of the tent. The rest of his body grabbed onto the balloon string and made a haphazard bid for freedom, drifting back towards the entrance past an increasingly irate Bon Bon.

Don’t you dare try to float away from me!” The Baroness tore after him in a blur of candy-coated rage, several cats tumbling from her chocolate curls. Djimmi levitated them safely into his arms as he watched Beppi ascend (ironically) to the heavens until he faded to a faint dot in the sky, Bon Bon still hot on his tail. “ Guards ! Fetch my rifle!”

Djimmi heaved a long-suffering sigh, but a smile nevertheless tugged at his lips as he glanced back at the travesty that was his former den of tranquility. Nothing a little magic couldn’t fix before his next customers came along - and nothing of true value was lost, even if he might have to rescue Beppi from a tree again later.

Mrow,” a kitten complained, pawing at Djimmi’s chest to indicate its desire to be set free, and he chuckled, petting its tiny head with a finger.

My thoughts exactly, little one.”