Magic and Mustaches
“Here we go... no big deal. No big deal at all,” Jim murmured, sweat beading on his brow. His paw was shaking. “Just a few more drops of Boiled Baggus, and that should do it.”
Jim was a simple Neopian. The yellow Aisha happened to be the Head of the Neopian Planning Committee, the company responsible for all of the neohomes from Maraqua to Kreludor. He lived a quiet life in his house on Mystery Island and he was as plain as plain could be. In fact, the only thing even slightly alluding to greatness was the pair of round spectacles he wore, reminiscent of Lisha of Meridell’s. But besides that, he and the famed Neopian were nothing alike. For example, he had never dabbled in the magical arts.
That is, until now.
Jim’s entire dining room table was filled with a variety of glass orbs, rubber tubing, flaming burners, and vials filled with an assortment of colorful and colorless liquids. Open on a stool was his copy of Bound Magic Book. It had cost him a pretty penny, and handwritten words were almost completely indecipherable, but written on page 567 was the perfect spell: Inopportune Itchy Scatchies.
“Mr. Leemer won’t know what hit him,” the yellow Aisha murmured, squeezing the end of a pipet so that a green droplet of Boiled Baggus dangled from the tip, threatening to fall into the grey concoction boiling in a test tube beneath him. “This will be the last time he tries to take over my company with his snazzy Neohomes 2.0!”
With his last exclamation, the drop fell into the bubbling potion. The brew turned bright orange--
Thick black smoke filled the air, and Jim was left hacking until most of it cleared away. He rubbed at his glasses, clearing off the filmy lenses, and moaned. “Noooo...” All of the utensils had exploded, leaving his dining room in a sea of shattered glass. The potion he had been brewing had entirely evaporated into the air, and the Bound Magic Book had disintegrated into nothing more than a smoldering pile of ash on the stool.
“What am I going to do?” he groaned. “I’m a failure. A failure!” He rubbed his face in despair... and that was when he felt it. Something odd nestled between his nose and upper lip. Something hairy.
The Aisha scuttled to the bathroom, peered into the mirror, and froze.
“A-A mustache?” he murmured, stroking the hair.
On his face was a luscious, chestnut brown mustache. It was bushy and large, and it curled up just a bit at the end. And although it was rather dashing, Jim did not particularly want a mustache on his face, especially one that had appeared there in a matter of seconds.
Reaching for a razor and shaving cream from his medicine cabinet, he shook his head. “Magical side effects,” he murmured wearily. “This is the last time I’m meddling with the supernatural.” He dotted his mustache with the white foam, and then shaved it off his face in a few quick strokes.
“There we are.” He smiled at his reflection when he had finished—and then his jaw dropped in horror.
His upper lip tingled, and suddenly the mustache reformed, sporting from his flesh bushier than ever.
Jim put his hand to his mouth. “Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no...”
Without another word, he ran out of the bathroom and darted out the door.
* * *
“What are you doing here?” Jhudora asked, glaring down at Jim and sounding irritated. “And what’s with the explosion of fur on your face? Lost a fight with a Drugal?”
Jim tried to steady his nerves--and his shaking legs—but it was no use. The dark faerie towered over him, tall and intimidating, with her green lips pursed and her hands positioned angrily on her hips.
He had met Jhudora a few times before. In fact, they had gotten into a few sticky situations together. But despite all they had been through, he was still terrified. He normally kept his distance from the temperamental faerie, but desperate times had called for desperate measures.
“Um, Jh-Jhudora,” he stuttered, his annoying habit emerging whenever he addressed her, “I was wondering if you could h-help me out...”
This apparently was the wrong thing to say. “Just because you helped me and Jesc out last year doesn’t mean I have to return the favor!” she snipped. “I have other more important things to waste my time on.” She slowly withdrew her wand from her back pocket. “However, if you want to hang around, I could sure use you for some Fireball practice. Sure, the sport is out of season right now...”
Jim blanched. “No, no, that’s alright! I’ll be on my way out right now. Th-Thank you, Jhudora!” The yellow Aisha turned tail and started running as quickly as he could towards her front door, wheezing, “This is the last time I ever try to take my revenge on someone using magic!”
Suddenly, with a blast of magic, the giant wooden door closed shut in front of him, trapping him inside. Jim yelped and turned around, seeing Jhudora holding her hand out as if to say “Stop.”
“Did you just say ‘revenge?’” she asked, her voice sounding genuinely curious. “Is that ‘stache of yours because of a revenge attempt?”
“Y-Yes,” Jim stuttered, nodding his head frantically, his black glasses almost falling off his face.
Jhudora groaned. “You tried to give someone a mustache? That’s it? Come on, Jim, even from a goody goody like you, I expected more.”
“Um, actually I was trying to give someone the Itchy Scratchies.”
Jhudora stared at him confusedly for a moment... and then burst out laughing. “Let me guess!” she said in between hysterics. “Instead of using Gnorbu Wool Candy Floss, you used just plain old Gnorbu Wool, am I right?”
Jim thought back to the book and the horrible spindly handwriting on the ingredients list. “Oh my,” he murmured, his face rouging.
“Well, Jim,” Jhudora said, putting her hands together, “the good thing is I can whip up a remedy for you in about a half hour, and then that horrendous mass of hair on your face will be gone for good.”
Jim immediately perked up. “Really?” he asked, surprised at her sudden generosity. “Oh thank you, Jhudora! I rea—”
“However,” she interrupted, a single green nail raised, “I want in.”
Jim blinked twice. “In what?”
“In on this revenge scheme of yours.”
“Well, I wasn’t planning on carrying it through after this incident—”
“Nonsense!” she said, wrapping her arm around his shoulder and drawing him deeper into her lair. Her nails prickled his skin. “A little revenge never hurt anyone.”
“But it did put a mustache on my face,” Jim mumbled miserably.
* * *
Jhudora’s potion brewing room was rather intimidating. Unlike the makeshift one Jim had set up in his neohome, this one was 100% legit. There were long wooden tables stained with dark chemicals and blackened with scorch marks. A book shelf filled with dusty tomes and coated in spider webs stood tall and proud. A large cabinet housing vials of liquids, as well as other ingredients, was up against one wall. And a big intimidating cauldron occupied the center of the room.
“First some espionage,” Jhudora said, heading towards a violet orb nestled on a stand that looked like a giant claw. The dark faerie used her sleeve to wipe away some of the dust and waggled her fingers over the crystal ball. It glowed, and she smiled with pleasure. “Oh I haven’t played a good prank in ages. What’s the name of our victim?”
“Mr. Leemer,” Jim supplied. “Al Leemer, to be more exact. Neohomes 2.0 is his brainchild.” He sighed, scratching his itchy mustache. “I just wanted him to miss this month’s Neohome Planning Committee meeting. He’s been going on about how the lack of walls in Neohomes 2.0 ‘inspires creativity and allows for the natural forces of feng shui to emanate through one’s home.’” He shivered.
“Yeah, yeah, I don’t really care,” Jhudora mumbled, intent over her orb. “Ah! Here we go!” Deep in the depths of the crystal, Jim could make the yellow Wocky out. The overly white teeth. The coif of brown hair on his head. Currently, he was brushing his teeth in his bathroom, oblivious to them peering down at him.
“That’s him.” Jim nodded. “Mr. Leemer.”
“Alright, so what are we going to do to him?” Jhudora asked, sweeping over to her bookshelf, her great wings poised. Her finger ran down the spine labels until she found a book that suited her liking: Revenge for Revenge’s Sake. The cover was midnight black, and the words shown in crimson.
“Er, that book looks a bit... dangerous.” Jim frowned.
“Do you want that ‘stache gone or not?”
“Yes,” Jim mumbled, touching it self-consciously.
“Good,” Jhudora said, flipping open the book. “Let’s see what we have here.” She pointed to one page. “We could make it so that everyone he sees will look like an evil clown, complete with glowing red eyes?”
Jim shivered. “Next.”
Jhudora shot him a look and flipped the page. “Ooh, this one will turn his skin inside out!”
“Jhudora,” Jim mumbled, fiddling with his paws, “don’t you think that’s a bit much? I mean, he’s a pain, but...”
“Fine!” Jhudora shouted, thumbing through the pages until she rested on a page bookmarked with a green ribbon. “Then how about we just set a horde of Mortogs on him? Simple, classic, and one of my personal faves.”
The yellow Aisha was thoughtful. “That sounds like it has promise.”
“Rabid Mortogs it is then!” Jhudora smiled.
Jim sighed, giving up.
Jhudora sent Jim darting around the room to retrieve the necessary items for both the Mortog potion and the mustache remedy. He couldn’t help but gag at some of the ingredients, but he went about his business dutifully, grinding up dried Blechies, extracting squid ink, and slicing up pink Ha Ha Grubs.
The mustache cure finished simmering first in its own small cauldron set up on a table. “Here you are, Jim,” Jhudora said, pouring the steaming, goopy substance into a goblet. “Drink up.”
Jim pinched his nose, took a deep breath, and swallowed the concoction. It was thick and rancid, but once it was down his esophagus and he had stopped hacking, he felt his upper lip tingle. Frantically, he turned towards a mirror on the wall and grinned. “It’s gone! Thank you, Jhudora! Thank you so much!”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Jhudora batted him away, stirring the giant cauldron in the center of the room with a large stick. “No telling anyone about this, or you’ll meet the same fate as Mr. Leemer.” She peered into the cauldron and smiled, her eyes flashing. “It’s done.”
She withdrew he wand from her pocket and touched the surface of the potion, sending ripples in the brew. “Pay attention to the orb, Jim. You’re not going to want to miss this!” she said. Then she started chanting. Her words were in some other language, but Jim didn’t care. His eyes were plastered to the crystal ball, watching an unsuspecting Mr. Leemer eating breakfast at his kitchen table. Finally, just as Jhudora finished her chant, there was a burst of smoke in the lair and when it cleared...
“Look!” Jim said, pointing to the orb. Inside he watched as the door to Mr. Leemer’s neohome suddenly burst open and in flooded a horde of Mortogs! They were of all shapes and colors, and they stormed into his house, hopping around everywhere and knocking down chairs, papers, and cookie jars. Mr. Leemer let out a frightened yelp, and then fled out the front door, running away from the slimy petpets that followed him.
“Wow, that was amazing,” Jim said, turning towards Jhudora with a grin. “Thank you so mu...” He trailed off, and his jaw dropped in shock.
“Yeah, yeah, I know I’m amazing,” Jhudora bragged, brushing off her shoulders. “But now that the fun’s over, you need to get out of here. I have some quests that need to be given out now that my potion stores are running low.”
“Come on, Jim, move,” the dark faerie said, snapping her fingers. “I can’t have you loitering here all day.”
“But Jhudora, your—”
“JIM!” she screeched, her eyes suddenly glowing. The floor rumbled, and the glass instruments in the room tinkled like wind chimes. “If you don’t leave right now, I will set a horde of Drackonacks on you! And believe me, they eat more than just cheese!”
With a yelp, Jim nodded and ran out of the lair without looking back. But as he sprinted down the streets of Faerieland, he couldn’t help but wonder with dread what would happen when Jhudora finally noticed the bushy violet mustache on her face.